PA Appellate Courts Deny Double Recovery to Plaintiff.

In Pusl v Means, 982 A 2d 550 (Pa Super 2009) plaintiff was awarded $100,000 damages from the tortfeasor. Prior to trial plaintiff recovered UIM policy limits of $75,000 from State Farm. The trial court granted defendant’s post trial motion to raise the defense of set off for plaintiff’s UIM settlement of $75,000 and proceeded to mold the verdict to $25,000.

On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed holding that section 1722 of the Pa MVFRL (75 Pa.C.S.A.sect 1722) was intended to bar double recovery and that plaintiff’s UIM settlement falls within the purview of that section’s first party benefits. The court also cited clear PA public policy against a person recovering twice for the same injury and rejected plaintiff’s argument that the set off violated the collateral source rule. Id at 557. The Court also noted that its holding was consistent with the equitable doctrine of subrogation, explaining that under existing law, State Farm had the right to subrogate against defendant tortfeasor in a separate action for the $75,000. paid under plaintiff’s UIM policy. The result of molding the verdict to $25,000 therefore ensures that plaintiff received the full amount of damages awarded to her by the jury, i.e. $25,000 from tortfeasor and $75,000 already recovered from State Farm. Id at 558.

On March 13, 2010 the PA Supreme court denied plaintiff’s petition for allocatur. Pusl v Means NO 512 WAL 2009.

http://pdf.wcmlaw.com/pdf/Superior Court Decision.pdf

http://pdf.wcmlaw.com/pdf/Supreme Court Decision.pdf

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Clayton Thomas at cthomas@wcmlaw.com.