The Hartford Insurance Group has lost a $1.45 million personal injury settlement between an injured worker and third parties where 60% was lost to the injured worker’s wife.
Hartford concluded that the division of the agreement was a “conspiracy” by the plaintiffs and defendants to protect a large portion of the judgment from subrogation by the employer and workers’ compensation insurance under Pennsylvania law.
Plaintiff, John Gleason, was employed as an MRI Field Service Technician by Medical Imaging Group, which had Hartford as a workers’ compensation insurer. On May 29, 2015, while Gleason was repairing an MRI machine at the hospital, a fire and explosion occurred in the main distribution center. Gleason’s hair, skin and clothing caught fire and he suffered severe burns, cuts, disfigurement and temporary blindness.
Gleason and his wife, Elaine Gleason, filed two lawsuits against various defendants including a construction company and an electrical contractor in 2016 and 2017, alleging negligence and loss of contract. The Gleasons agreed with the defendants and filed a motion asking the court to grant their motion. All defendants agreed to support the Gleasons’ request without participating in the distribution between the spouses.
A federal court in Philadelphia upheld the verdict, awarding $580,000 to the injured worker and $870,000 to his wife for her lost contract.
Hartford contested the subrogation and appealed, arguing that the trial court’s decision was a “shortcut” that was “not sufficient to protect its rights” as a subrogee. It also argued that the trial court did not consider Hartford’s claim that the subrogation was not supported by sufficient evidence.
A three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has now rejected Hartford’s appeal.
The Supreme Court of the state has said that “because the loss of the consortium decision is of a natural nature and is caused by the injury of the spouse during the marriage and not by the injury itself, there is no knowledge or equality of income and, therefore, the Employer has no interest in recovering the husband or his wife loses the contract.”
The Supreme Court has also recognized that the establishment of a loss of contract between the plaintiff and another person at fault as was the case in this case gives rise to abuse “due to the employer’s failure to participate” because “the plaintiff would have had the opportunity to defend his recovery from the employer’s compensation by fraud in the case of unjustified damage to the husband or wife’s divorce.”
Despite this, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected Hartford’s appeal and upheld the lower court’s decision with a 60% stake in the consortium.
The Supreme Court found that the insurer was not denied due process in court because it had an opportunity to participate when the decision was accepted and did not challenge the court’s decision. his hearing. The court noted that the insurer also has the option to appeal to a civil court if it believes the claim has been unduly apportioned.
The appellate court also agreed with the trial court saying that there is sufficient evidence to support the distribution of the money. The grand jury found that the evidence “indicated that Mr. Gleason recovered substantially” from his physical and mental injuries, while Ms. Gleason was “in good mental and emotional health.” [had] it got worse” when she tried to cope “suddenly and for a long time after her husband lost his friendship and disrupted the life of his family.
“[C]Considering the psychological trauma that Mrs. Gleason and Mr. Gleason are recovering from, the evidence supports this. [the] holding that the apportionment of 60% of the total interest on the loss of the third interest is reasonable,” the court concluded.
The appeals court also agreed with the trial court’s finding that there was no support for the insurer’s claim that the subdivision was an “attempt to interfere with their right to self-determination” since there was no evidence presented “to establish that the Gleasons entered the property.” with bad intentions.”
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