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Mulligan v. Hornbuckle Oregon Court of Appeals 2009

Case Conclusion Date: 01.01.2009

Practice Area: Personal injury

Outcome: Case established that the court can penalize Insurance companies that try to bully Plaintiffs into settling with unecessary litigation

Description: Client Mulligan was injured in a rear-end car accident. Defendant admitted fault. Defendant's insurance company, Farmer's Insurance tried everything to get Plaintiff to take an inadequate settlement. Farmer's sat through an arbitration without putting on any contrary evidence to dispute Plaintiff's claims for medical damages and pain and suffering. The arbitrator understandably gave Plaintiff the damages requested because there was no opposition. Then Farmer's appealed and made Plaintiff go to be examined by their expert neurosurgeon. The case ended up in a 2 day jury trial with the Neurosurgeon testifying for Farmer's who by this time spent thousands of dollars for the exam and testimony. Plaintiff had her Chiropractor and family members testify to her injuries. There was never any issue as to fault or whether Plaintiff was injured. It was just Farmers trying to bully Plaintiff to take a smaller sum. Farmer's tactics caused about $50k of additional legal time to be expended by this attorney at trial just so Farmer's could save a few thousand in damages reducing the amount awarded in arbitration. Farmer's mostly spent what they saved paying their expert doctor and their legal team. The trial judge agreed that the extra effort that Farmer's put out was not fair nor justified by the small amount they saved and awarded Plaintiff and her attorney an extra penalty fee against Farmer's of $3,500.00. Then Farmer's appealed, to get out of the penalty and to also show that they had made an offer shortly before trial that they felt was better than the trial verdict Plaintiff had obtained. The offer had not been specific as to the amount so the trial court, and then the court of appeals agreed that Farmer's couldn't show a better offer. The Oregon Court of Appeals also agreed with the Trial Judge that Farmer's was a bully and the $3,500.00 extra penalty against them was appropriate. Farmer's tried to appeal again to the Oregon Supreme Court and the appeal was denied, thus affirming the decision.

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