Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Ohio Casualty v. Chamberlin (Ct. of Special Appeals)

Filed January 2, 2007--Opinion by Judge Robert Karwacki.

Ohio Casualty Insurance Company paid $20,000 to Sara Chamberlin, pursuant to Md. Insurance Code Art. §19-511, when Ohio Casualty (as the uninsured motorist carrier) rejected a $20,000 settlement offer from the defendant. After a jury awarded Chamberlin only $5,445 on her claim, Ohio Casualty moved to compel the return of the $20,000. The Court of Special Appeals held that, when a UIM carrier chooses to thwart a proposed settlement between a plaintiff and an alleged tortfeasor by substituting its payment of the settlement amount, it bears the risk that a jury might return a verdict in an amount less than the amount advanced or in favor of the defendant(s) and it is not entitled to a refund of any amount paid. The Court also rejected the argument by Ohio Casualty that language in Chamberlin's insurance policy required the money to be returned, finding such language vague and unenforceable.

The full opinion is available in WordPerfect and PDF.

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