This case law update has brought to you by Freeway Law, personal injury and motor vehicle crash lawyers. The following is not one of our cases, but it is of some significance, and we thought we should share it with our readers for informational purposes. The information below is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as legal advice.
Court: Supreme Court of Alabama
Opinion Date: February 19, 2021
Judge: Greg Shaw
Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Insurance Law, Personal Injury
Defendant Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company (“Allstate”), appealed a circuit court’s order granting the posttrial motion of the plaintiff, Doyle Harbin, which sought the imposition of sanctions based on Allstate’s purported violation of a pretrial mediation order. In 2015, Harbin was injured as the result of a motor vehicle accident that he alleged was caused by Irvin Stewart. Harbin subsequently filed a complaint in the trial court asserting a negligence claim against Stewart. In the same complaint, Harbin also named Allstate, Harbin’s automobile insurance carrier, as a defendant and sought to recover uninsured/underinsured motorist (“UIM”) benefits under his Allstate policy. Following Stewart’s dismissal, Harbin, without opposition from Allstate, requested that the scheduled trial date be continued and the matter referred to mediation. Unable to reach a settlement, the matter proceeded to trial. A jury returned a $690,000 verdict in Harbin’s favor. Approximately two weeks later, Harbin filed a “Motion for Entry of Judgment and Motion for Sanctions,” essentially contending Allstate in bad faith failed to abide by the Order which set the Court-ordered mediation in which Allstate had agreed to participate. The motion requested Allstate pay Harbin’s trial-related attorneys’ fees. The Alabama Supreme Court found the evidence failed to show Allstate violated the trial court’s mediation order, thus it exceeded its discretion by issuing Harbin’s requested sanctions. The Court, therefore, reversed the portion of the trial court’s order imposing sanctions exceeding Harbin’s request for costs and fees totaling $57,516.36, and remanded this matter for further proceedings.
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