Page v. CNA Insurance
$797,400 Arbitration Award
Date of Verdict: Nov. 30.
Court and Case No.: ADR Options.
Judge: Joseph F. Ricchiuti
Type of Action: Underinsured motorist.
Injuries: Neck and knee injuries.
Plaintiffs Counsel: James Haggerty of Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer & Kupersmith, Philadelphia.
Plaintiffs Expert: Richard Mandel, orthopedist; Lee Harris, neurologist; Jasen Walker, vocations; Chad Staller and James Markham, economist.
Defense Counsel: Thane Trotman of the Law Office of Peter A. Callahan, Philadelphia.
An arbitrator has awarded a man $797,400 for injuries he sustained after being rear-ended while driving his employer’s vehicle.
According to court documents, the plaintiff, Dion Page, had sued his employer’s insurance carrier, Valley Forge Insurance Co., which is an affiliate of CNA Insurance Co., seeking recovery of underinsured motorist benefits.
The underlying action, according to Page’s arbitration memo, occurred when Page was sitting in his employer’s vehicle, which had been stopped on a road in Bucks County. Page’s vehicle had its hazard lights flashing, but a vehicle that Daniel McCulloch was driving, rear-ended Page’s vehicle, causing him to sustain disabling injuries to his neck and knee.
According to the plaintiff, McCullouch said he had been texting so he had not seen Page’s vehicle immediately before the collision.
McCulloch’s insurance carrier tendered its policy, which had a $50,000 liability coverage limit, and Page subsequently sought underinsurance coverage from CNA, which had provided a $1 million liability limit for Page’s employer.
According to Page’s memo, as a result of the accident, Page sustained injuries to several discs in his neck, knee and shoulder sprains, a rotator cuff tear and an aggravation of a cervical degenerative disc disease. Page subsequently underwent a cervical discectomy with fusion, followed by physical therapy, before he underwent a hemi-laminectomy and a complete facetectomy.
Page had been 43 at the time of the accident, and he worked as a laborer. He did not return to work after the accident and was later determined to be disabled by the Social Security Administration, the plaintiff said.
The dispute between Page and CNA focused on Page’s economic damages and his comparative negligence, since he had been stopped in a no-parking zone.
The plaintiff’s vocational rehabilitation expert, Jasen Walker, contended that Page had an earning capacity ranging from $28,000 to $38,000, and Page claimed to have sustained a net economic loss of more than $670,000.
CNA’s attorney Thane Trotman of the Law Office of Peter A. Callahan, however, disputed those figures.
“He had never made a whole lot of money in the first place,” Trotman said. “The future wage loss claim was predicated on numbers that were not reflected on the plaintiff’s tax returns.”
The single arbitrator, Joseph F. Ricchiuti ultimately awarded Page $797,000. That amount was later molded to $747,400 to account for the prior $50,000 settlement.
“The arbitrator did a good job in evaluating the claims and making a fair award, which compensated the plaintiff for his injuries,” Page’s attorney James Haggerty, of Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer & Kupersmith, said. However, Haggerty added that the defendant did not make any offers until very late in the litigation, and so he is considering pursuing a bad faith action.
—Max Mitchell, of the Law Weekly