Progressive Wins Lawsuit | Insurance company
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Eli Villareal Alvarez – a progressive insured – crashed into Heather Eres’ vehicle in May 2007, causing her vehicle to collide with an oncoming train. Eres suffered permanent injuries, while his son was killed and Villareal then pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Progressive was notified of the collision four days after it occurred and the next day the insurer offered its total limits of $ 10,000 for bodily injury to Eres and her son’s estate. Eres’ attorney informed Progressive that she was not yet ready to accept payments until Villareal’s criminal proceedings were completed and the son’s estate representative appointed. Progressive has continued to ensure follow-up throughout the criminal proceedings, saying it is “ready to distribute the checks to [Eres’s counsel’s] direction.”
Almost two years later, Progressive received word from Eres’ new attorney, Peter Macaluso, regarding a settlement order, who made several requests. These requests included: that Progressive offer information about insurance coverage as required by Florida law and an affidavit from Villareal stating that it had no other insurance coverage; the issuance of a refund of $ 650 for the personal effects of Eres’ son that were lost in the accident; a press release which only released Villareal and which did not contain any liability or indemnification clauses.
Progressive then contacted Katherine Shadwick, who represents Villareal, to prepare a response to the settlement. Shadwick gave Macaluso all requested information, payment details and documentation, as well as a statement that only released Villareal.
While Shadwick informed Macaluso that she believed Villareal and Progressive met the terms of the settlement, Macaluso found a problem. Days after the discussion, Macaluso claimed he had reached a non-liability or indemnity agreement in the release which he said is a rejection of the settlement offer. Shadwick disagreed with Macaluso’s statement but agreed to remove the offending language from the post.
Eres then filed a lawsuit against Villareal in state court, winning a judgment of more than $ 10 million. The judgment was upheld on appeal and the Second District Court of Appeals dismissed the claim that Progressive had met all the conditions of the settlement. The court concluded that while the “proposed releases do not use the terms ‘keep out of liability’ or” indemnification “,” the language which released the subrogation requests was “of the nature of a disclaimer or indemnity agreement. “
At this point, Eres took legal action against Progressive, claiming the insurer acted in bad faith by failing to settle the claim within Villareal’s policy limits. However, the Eleventh Circuit disagreed, stating that Progressive had acted “quite the opposite, in fact”. He pointed out that Eres had focused on the language of the release that contradicted Florida’s “totality of circumstances” test, which required the court to consider Progressive’s actions before and after Shadwick sent the report. release.