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Anderson, et al. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh PA, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-022-17)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-12108   ODIN ANDERSON & others[1]  vs.  NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF PITTSBURGH PA & others.[2]       Middlesex.     October 6, 2016. – February 2, 2017.     Present:  Gants, C.J., Botsford, Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, & Lowy, Budd, JJ.     Consumer Protection Act, Insurance, Unfair or deceptive act, Offer of settlement, Damages.  Insurance, Settlement of claim.  Damages, Consumer protection case, Interest, Punitive.  Interest.  Judgment, Interest.  Practice, Civil, Judgment, Damages, Interest.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on March 13, 2003.   The case was heard by Brian A. Davis, J., and motions to alter or amend the judgment were also heard by him.   After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review.     Kathleen M. Sullivan for National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh PA. Leonard H. Kesten (Richard E. Brody also present) for the plaintiffs.     GAZIANO, J.  In this appeal, we consider the proper measure of punitive damages to be assessed against defendants who engage in unfair or deceptive insurance settlement practices in violation of G. L. c. 176D, § 3, and G. L. c. 93A, § 9 (3).  The plaintiffs — Odin Anderson, his wife, and his daughter — filed a personal injury action in the Superior Court for serious injuries Odin[3] suffered after being struck by a bus owned by Partners Healthcare Systems, Inc. (Partners), that was being driven by one of its employees.  The plaintiffs filed a separate action, under G. L. c. 176D, and G. L. c. 93A, against Partner’s insurers and claims representatives; proceedings in that action were stayed pending resolution of the underlying tort claims.  After a trial, a Superior Court jury awarded Anderson $ 2,961,000[4] in damages in the personal injury action, and awarded his wife and daughter $ 110,000 each.  At a subsequent, jury-waived trial, a different Superior Court judge found that the insurers and claims representatives violated G. L. c. 93A and G. L. c. 176D by their “egregious,” “deliberate or callously indifferent” actions, “designed to conceal the truth, improperly skew the legal system and deprive the Andersons of fair compensation for their injuries for almost a decade.”  Based on these findings, the judge concluded that the insurers’ and claims representatives’ “misconduct warrants the maximum available sanction . . . , both as punishment for what transpired and as a deterrent to similar conduct in the future.”  He awarded the plaintiffs treble […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - February 2, 2017 at 6:14 pm

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