Case Law Dispatch: Bartolomucci v. Federal Insurance

By Cory Bilton

Case: Bartolomucci v. Federal Insurance

  • Court: Virginia Supreme Court
  • Date of Decision: 4/16/15
  • Opinion by: Millette

Facts:

Vu Vo and Christopher Bartolomucci were involved in a vehicle collision. Vu filed suit against Christopher, who was a partner at the law firm of Hogan Lovells. Christopher’s personal insurance policy provided only $100,000 in coverage, which was insufficient to satisfy the damage he caused to Vu. Therefore, Christopher sought excess coverage from Hogan Lovells’ Federal Insurance policy. Federal Insurance denied that the policy provided coverage for Christopher’s collision.

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Case Law Dispatch: Payne v. Erie Insurance

By Cory Bilton

Case: Payne v. Erie Insurance

  • Court: Maryland Court of Appeals
  • Date of Decision: 3/30/15
  • Appellate Panel: Barbera, Harrell, Battaglia, Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts
  • Opinion by: McDonald
  • Concurrence by: Harrell, Battaglia, and Watts

Facts:

Karen, the adult daughter of Alan and Maureen, lives with her parents and has unrestricted access to drive their vehicle. Karen asks the father of her children, Ameen, to pick the kids up from school using Alan and Maureen’s vehicle. Alan and Maureen have previously forbidden Ameen from driving the vehicle. While Ameen is using the vehicle, he is involved in a collision.

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DC Superior Court Jury Verdicts from 2014

By Cory Bilton

Each year, the DC Superior Court releases jury verdict data for cases involving automobile collisions, medical malpractice, and slip and falls. Since the Superior Court is Washington DC’s main trial court, this data provides some insight into the characteristics of cases that are going to trial and how juries are deciding them. Here is a summary of the jury verdict data for 2014:

Case Type
# of Cases
Plaintiff Verdict
Avg. Verdict Amount
Defense Verdict

Automobile
57
35
$25,414.32
22

Slip & Fall
7
1
$105,000
6

Medical Malpractice
8
3
$327,908.59
5

Totals
72
39
$50,723.76
33

There are a lot of ways to misinterpret these statistics. So before jumping to any conclusions from looking at these numbers, keep the following in mind:

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Case Law Dispatch: Espina v. Jackson

By Cory Bilton

Case: Espina v. Jackson

  • Court: Maryland Court of Appeals
  • Date of Decision: 3/30/15
  • Appellate Panel: Barbara, Harrell, Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, McAuliffe

Facts:

Prince George’s County police officer shot and killed plaintiff. Jury returned $11 million verdict for plaintiff’s family finding officer violated plaintiff’s state constitutional rights, assaulted and battered him, and wrongfully killed him.

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Case Law Dispatch: Sullivan v. AboveNet Communications

By Cory Bilton

Case Law Dispatches

With Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland so close in proximity, nearly every personal injury case in our area involves standards and laws from more than one jurisdiction. To help the legal community notice emerging decisions, Case Law Dispatches provide a very brief snapshot of specific appellate decisions that impact personal injury law in the Washington, DC area.

Case: Sullivan v. AboveNet Communications

  • Court: DC Court of Appeals
  • Decision Date: 3/26/15
  • Appellate Panel: Blackburne-Rigsby, McLeese, and King
  • Trial Judge: Cordero

Facts:

Plaintiff was injured after he tripped and fell on uneven pavement around a manhole in the roadway.

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Interview with Appellate Lawyer John Vail

By Cory Bilton

DC Court of Appeals

Last fall, I had the good fortune to meet John Vail.  John’s legal career has covered a lot of territory.  He has managed community legal services programs, testified before Congress on federal procedure, and lectured at esteemed law schools (such as my alma mater, George Washington University).  But for most of this century, John’s practice has focused on motions, appeals, and constitutional issues.  For many trial lawyers, appeals are a rare opportunity.  John was kind enough to allow me to ask him a few questions about appeals, his career, and advice he has for local trial lawyers.

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Will the Supreme Court End Confusion Caused by Empire v. McVeigh?

By Cory Bilton

Supreme Court - 2

While the nation looks to the Supreme Court to take a stand on historic social issues, some personal injury attorneys are hopeful that the Court will take a stand for state laws that protect injury victims from unfair subrogation practices. My interests fall into both categories. For attorneys unaware that an interesting subrogation case is being considered, you should check out the briefs for Aetna v. Kobold or Coventry v. Nevils. The two cases ask the Court to resolve the same issue: do the terms of a FEHBA plan preempt state laws regulating subrogation and reimbursement?

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There is Only an “Emergency Stop” Button in Google’s Second Generation Driverless Car

By Cory Bilton

Google Driverless Car

In case you haven’t been following along, Google is developing a driverless car. While other groups and researchers are also building autonomous vehicles, Google’s project has created the most buzz by far. Up until recently, Google’s driverless car was a Toyota Prius with various pieces of equipment, sensors and laser radar, mounted on it. Recently, Google unveiled the next generation of its driverless car, pictured above. This version is a specially built vehicle with all of the equipment incorporated right into the car itself. As I’ve blogged before, one of the puzzling questions is what is the legal duty of the occupant of a Google car?

The second-generation Google car has thrown a wrench in the works on this issue: the car has no steering wheel. There is, however, still an “emergency stop” button in this new version of Google car.

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Santa Claus Accidents in the Washington DC Area

By Cory Bilton

Santa's_Portrait_1881

Everything about Santa Claus points to the conclusion that he’s an accident waiting to happen. I’ve only seen him once, about 30 years ago, but I remember he was an older gentleman with poor eyesight. He operates a non-traditional vehicle without proper safety equipment (no headlights, turn signals, or seatbelts). I’m skeptical that Santa has the appropriate operator’s license. His vehicle is pulled by draft animals that are considered wild. He drives at night, when darkness makes it harder to see. From many accounts, his sleigh exceeds weight limits for roadways and rooftops. He drives on roads, front yards, and roofs without regard to traffic regulations or private property. Santa Claus is a danger to public safety.

So you may be wondering, what do you do when Santa Claus negligently injures you or damages your property? Suppose Santa fails to yield the right-of-way to your vehicle, or the weight of his sleigh collapses the roof of your home? What recourse do you have?  Here are some tips for residents of the Washington, DC area when pursuing a claim for personal injury or property damage against Santa Claus.

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