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Plaintiffs Seek Restored Attendant Care Benefits (continued)

Insurance carrier settles after case remanded over sanctions
$3,736,458

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Four plaintiffs who ranged in age from 15 to 44 when their accidents occurred — sought attendant care benefits from defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

The four plaintiffs suffered catastrophic injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, in individual automobile accidents between 1993 and 2002. Each plaintiff was insured by, or was entitled to no-fault automobile insurance benefits from, State Farm, with extensive, well-documented medical histories and entitlement to benefits.

Plaintiffs had prior legal disputes over benefits, and had been receiving attendant care benefits for varying amounts of time.

In October 2008, State Farm transferred all of these claims to a single insurance adjuster for handling. Over the next two months, she proceeded to reduce by between and 45 percent and 55 percent, or cut off completely, plaintiffs’ attendant care benefits. State Farm hired four law firms to represent its interests including three from Michigan and one from Illinois.

During discovery, both the federal magistrate judge and the trial court judge found that State Farm obstructed the discovery process so much that sanctions should be awarded against State Farm. All plaintiffs’ claims were consolidated and tried in federal court in April 2009, with State Farm prevailing. On appeal, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in April 2012 upheld the verdict, but remanded the case back to the trial court for a determination of discovery sanctions to award to plaintiffs because of State Farm’s conduct.

After the appeal, a settlement of $3,736,458 was reached for all of the claims against State Farm, including for any sanctions that could have been awarded by the court, and for attendant care benefits. For some of the claims, State Farm agreed to pay a guaranteed daily rate for attendant care benefits for at least five years into the future, paying as much as $675 per day for attendant care benefits.

The total value of the settlement of the attendant care issues includes the amount paid by the insurance company for the previous years’ deficiencies in attendant care payments, and the value of the claim during the pendency of the agreements between the parties.

Type of action: Automobile no-fault benefits
Types of injuries: Traumatic brain injuries
Court/Case no.: U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan; 07-CV-10259
Name of judge: Arthur Tarnow
Settlement amount: $3,736,458
Insurance carrier: State Farm