In follow-up to my January 25th blog post, I am pleased to announce that on February 7, 2013 the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld Steve Kaufman’s verdict against Shelter Insurance. As a brief recap, Mr. Kaufman tried this case with another Kidneigh & Kaufman Denver personal injury lawyer, Charlie Crichton, in August 2011 in Denver District Court. On behalf of their injured client, Mr. Kaufman and Mr. Crichton argued that the client’s insurer, Shelter Insurance, did not sufficiently advise the client about uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in order to allow him to make an informed decision regarding whether to purchase or reject the coverage. After a four day trial, Denver accident lawyers Mr. Kaufman and Mr. Crichton obtained a verdict of approximately $500,000 for their client.
Shelter Insurance appealed the trial court’s decision and oral arguments took place on January 28th. In a quick turnaround, the Court of Appeals issued their decision a mere 10 days later. The Court concluded that:
(1) the trial court did not err in reforming the policy at issue to provide UM/UIM benefits;
(2) sufficient evidence supported the trial court’s finding that Shelter unreasonably delayed and denied UIM benefits, and the court was not prevented as a matter of law from reaching that conclusion; and
(3) the trial court did not err in its award of attorney fees.
With respect to the above findings the Court stated that “[r]eformation of an insurance policy is an equitable remedy within the trial court’s discretion” and in this case, the trial court’s findings were “amply supported by the record” and thus reformation was appropriate. Similarly, the Court determined the trial court had “ample record support” to conclude that it was unreasonable for Shelter to withhold the indisputably owed benefits for almost three months.
Lastly, the Court upheld the trial court’s award of attorney fees and further concluded that the Plaintiff was also “entitled to recover the reasonable appellate fees that he incurred in successfully defending his judgment.” With the addition of appellate attorney fees, the award for our client will be well over $500,000.
Filed under: Articles by Jennifer Crichton
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