Court: Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
Dockets: 19-0890, 19-0899
Opinion Date: June 15, 2021
Areas of Law: Insurance Law, Personal Injury, Real Estate & Property Law
In these appeals arising from adverse jury verdicts rendered in separate trials following an automobile accident involving Joseph Jenkins and Tessa Jordan, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the circuit court erred in part.
The first trial resulted in the jury’s calculation of damages sustained by Jenkins and his wife as a result of the accident, which the parties stipulated was caused through the fault of Jordan. The Jenkins also sued Safeco Insurance Company of America and liberty Mutual Insurance Company (collectively, Safeco) for conversion. After a second trial on the Jenkins’ claims for compensatory and punitive damages Safeco appealed the jury’s determination that the Jenkins were entitled to punitive damages. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the circuit court’s order denying the Jordans’ motion to set aside the verdict and for a new trial and remanded that case for a new trial, holding that the jury should have been instructed on Jenkins’ duty to mitigate the loss of his vehicle; and (2) reversed the court’s order denying Safeco’s motion to reduce the punitive damages award, holding that remand was necessary to review the punitive damages award for excessiveness.
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