Leg Amputation Claim Costs Allstate 25 Million in Bad Faith Lawsuit
Would you undergo a leg amputation for 22 million? Patrick Hennessey would probably answer the question with an emphatic, “no,” but after a horrible accident, he suffered a leg amputation. As a result, he was awarded a $22 million settlement against Allstate after Allstate acted in bad faith toward its insured, Caruso. This amputation lawsuit verdict against Allstate is the largest bad faith case settlement in the history of Pennsylvania.
The judgment stemmed from an incident on July 26, 2009 when Ryan Caruso was driving his car with his friend (Hennessey, the plaintiff) in the passenger seat. At 2 a.m., Caruso rear-ended a car on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia. Because of the accident, Caruso’s car was unable to re-start.
Caruso remained in the driver’s seat while Hennesey walked around to the back of Caruso’s car to push it to the side of the road while Caruso steered. Meanwhile, the car Caruso rear-ended was now behind Caruso’s car with its flashers on.
As Hennessey pushed his friend’s car to the side of the road with the other car trailing behind him with its flashers on for safety purposes, a third car, driven by Shawn Robertson, struck the car with the flashers. This caused a domino effect and sent the car with the flashers soaring into Hennessy, crushing him in between the two cars.
Hennessey, 24 at the time, sustained severe injuries that eventually led to him having to undergo an above-the-knee right leg amputation.
Shawn Robertson did not have insurance, but Caruso was insured by Allstate and bore liability since his rear-end collision had set in motion the events that led to the injury. Therefore, Allstate was “reasonably” expected to pay the $250,000 coverage for Hennessey’s injury which its insured took part in.
Allstate procrastinated so badly that they put forth more effort into covering up their lack of due diligence than doing their job. Despite Hennessey’s leg amputation injury, Allstate would not confirm Caruso’s coverage amount, and then refused to pay the claim twice. Last May, after 4 years of litigation, and as the leg amputation case proceeded to trial, Allstate’s lawyer offered to settle for the original policy limit of $250,000. The plaintiff’s attorney, Matthew Casey, was irritated by this offer because he was prepared to settle for the policy limit much earlier on. He rejected the offer in a May 16, 2013 letter, leaving no room for interpretation as to his perception of Allstate’s behavior.
“I have your letter,” Casey wrote the Allstate lawyer. “Your offer is rejected. As the correspondence in this case will confirm and as Allstate’s internal files and depositions following the Hennessy verdict will further illustrate, Allstate frivolously and unreasonably…placed its interests above Caruso’s.”
Casey still counter-offered with $5 million for the leg amputation, shortly before trial but said if they rejected it his offer would jump to $10 million.
On May 23, 2013, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury issued a $19,145,000 verdict in favor of Hennessey for the leg amputation. The award was against Caruso, but Allstate is paying up. As expected, Caruso assigned his right to seek redress from Allstate to Hennessey and his lawyers, and they filed a “bad faith” complaint against Allstate, alleging that the firm had engaged in impermissible delay tactics. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that Allstate’s agent assured the Caruso family that Allstate had internal policies consisted with its “Good Hands” advertising campaign. Also, there was representation by Allstate’s claim handlers that Allstate was conducting claims investigations when Allstate was actively concealing that it was not investigating the claims. Lastly, Caruso was not informed by Allstate that Hennessy offered to accept the $250,000 policy limit as a settlement before the case went to trial.
With the $19.1 Million Dollar Verdict and bad faith claim, Allstate settled for $22 million for Hennessey’s leg amputation. That is one expensive leg.