Mr. Moody's Representative Cases

FRAUD & BAD ACTS BY INSURANCE COMPANIES

Excess Liability

Dykman v. Allstate Insurance Company, 3AN-94-1991 Civil and 3AN-97-3365 Civil (Consolidated). Mr. Dykman was a young man rendered paraplegic in a single car rollover caused by the drunk driver. The driver's insurer failed to settle the claims for policy limits, instead paying the insured to go to trial. The trial resulted in a very large judgment that was not dischargeable in bankruptcy. The insurer paid its policy limits, but refused to pay the remaining judgment of $5,391,111, plus interest. The driver then assigned his rights against his liability insurer to Mr. Dykman. Mr. Moody was hired as lead counsel for the lawsuit against the insurer. After several years of very hard fought litigation, the case settled for a confidential amount.

Failure to Disclose and Pay Policy Benefits

Pittillo v. Allstate Insurance Company, Case No. 3AN-99-3804 Civil. A 20-year-old man received serious brain injury while a passenger in a vehicle rolled by a negligent driver. Allstate, which insured both the driver and the Pittillo family, had settled all claims while Pittillo was represented by a prior lawyer. This later action for fraud and bad faith alleged that Allstate had concealed the driver's $100,000 UIM coverage, concealed the availability of the Pittillo $25,000 medical payments coverage, intentionally mislead the Pittillos as to the total coverages available, and submitted a false affidavit to the Probate Court to obtain approval of the prior settlement. On the eve of trial, a confidential settlement was paid.

Other Allstate Fraud and Bad Faith Cases. Following Dykman and Pittillo, Mr. Moody served as co-counsel in a series of 11 other cases against Allstate Insurance Company alleging fraud and bad faith for failure to disclose and pay stackable uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverages and medical payments coverages. Some of the cases involved failure to stack UM/UIM coverages within a single policy; for example, paying the passenger the liability limits of the driver's policy, but failing to disclose and pay the stackable UIM coverage of the driver's policy. Other cases involved paying a UM or UIM coverage under one policy, but failing to disclose and pay a stackable UM or UIM coverage from another policy; for example, paying a UM coverage under the insured's auto policy but failing to disclose or pay the stackable UM coverage under her motor home policy. In each case, it was also alleged that the true policy limits implied-in-law were $1,000,000/$2,000,000 because the insurer had failed to comply with Alaska Statute 21.89.020(c), which requires that offers of such increased limits be made to each insured regardless of the amount of liability insurance they buy. Those cases were settled for confidential amounts.

Handy v. State Farm Insurance Companies, A88-202 Civil. Mr. Moody served as counsel for a husband and wife in an insurance bad faith case against their homeowners insurer. This action alleged the insurer had wrongfully refused to pay for their custom home that was destroyed by fire and had accused them of arson without a proper investigation, ignoring evidence that showed the fire was not the result of arson. Discovery established that the insurer used an arson investigator of questionable qualifications who repeatedly found that fires were caused by arson and often reused the same language from one report to the next. This case was resolved by a confidential multi-million dollar settlement.

Gallagher v. Westport Insurance Company, Case No. 3AN-01-8934 Civil. Mr. Moody was hired as co-counsel for a family in which one daughter was killed, another severely brain damaged, and a son seriously injured when the pickup truck in which they were passengers collided with a school bus. This action sought to establish UIM coverage under the business automobile insurance policy of the father's trucking company and sought damages for bad faith denial of coverage. The action also sought reformation to increase the UIM limits to $1,000,000/$2,000,000 because the insurer failed to make the statutorily-mandated offer of increased limits under AS 21.89.020(c)(2). After extensive discovery and motion practice, the court ruled that coverage existed. The case then settled for a confidential amount.

Insurance Coverage

GEICO v. Dunst, Case No. A04-0272 CV (JWS). A motorist in an SUV pulled in front of a motorcyclist who was forced to take evasive action. He avoided a collision, but the motorcycle crashed, causing him serious injuries. The policemen who responded to the scene failed to document the identity of the SUV or the driver. The insurance company sued its insured for a declaratory judgment that he had no uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage under his motorcycle policy or umbrella policy because the driver was unknown and state law allows an exclusion of coverage for "phantom drivers." Mr. Moody filed counterclaims seeking a declaration of coverage under those two policies, plus a third policy. After an exhaustive investigation, he finally found the identity of the SUV driver. The insurer ultimately agree that stackable coverage existed under all three policies, totaling $1,600,000 plus approximately ten percent for Civil Rule 82 attorney fees.


AVIATION

Design Defect

Roberts v. Dornier, GmbH, 4BE-79Civil, 4BE-140 Civil, 4BE-80 Civil, and 4BE-59 Civil. This action was on behalf of the fiance and after born child of a commercial pilot killed when the twin engine STOL (short take off & landing) aircraft he was piloting pitched severely nose down and crashed at high speed. It was alleged that the crash resulted from aerodynamic design defects that caused the horizontal tailplane to stall. After several years of intense litigation, which included discovery under the Hague Convention, technical depositions across the United States, and the manufacturer filing two petitions for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, a large confidential settlement was reached.

Manufacturing Defect

Bell v Precision Airmotive, Inc., Case No. A99-0046 Civil (JKS). Counsel for the widow of a pilot who died when an engine of a DC-6 caught fire, ultimately causing wing failure as he was on final approach to an emergency landing. This action against the engine overhaul company alleged that the reconditioned master rod sold and installed as part of the engine overhaul suffered a fatigue failure, broke a hole in the engine and caused the fire. After several years of litigation, the case settled for a confidential amount.

Flight School Negligence

Mills v. Vernair, 3AN-91-6636 Civil. Mr. Moody was the attorney for the family of a student pilot killed in an aircraft accident while practicing take offs and landings at Merrill Field. The engine quit due to fuel starvation, and a classic stall-spin resulted in her death. This action alleged that the pilot had received inadequate instruction and that the engine died due to the defective design of the fuel system of the aircraft. The flight school claimed the crash was due to pilot error. We successfully established that the pilot was not subject to the per passenger limitation of the insurance policy. The case settled for the full general liability limits of the policy.

Smith v. Alaska Air Academy, Case No. 3AN-97-521 Civil. Mr. Moody was hired as counsel by the widow of an attorney who died in a plane crash while on a solo cross country training flight. This action alleged that the flight school negligently authorized the cross country flight in observed and forecast weather conditions that were marginal for a student solo cross country flight. On the eve of trial, the flight school confessed judgment for $3,200,000 and assigned its rights against its insurance company. The ensuing bad faith case against the school's insurer resulted in a confidential settlement.


PRODUCTS LIABILITY

Guns

Paddock v. Thompson-Center Arms, 3AN-84-7077 Civil. This action was brought on behalf of the widow of a commercial fisherman who had been killed when his single shot Thompson Contender pistol fell from a shelf in rough seas and discharged when it struck the floor. Liability was based on design defect because the gun did not have an adequate safety mechanism. The trial jury awarded compensatory and punitive damages totaling $4,040,000, which resulted in a judgment of $5,300,000. The case settled on appeal for a confidential amount.

Harvey v. Thompson-Center Arms, Case No. 3AN-97-1803 Civil (Paddock II). Years after the Paddock case, Mr. Moody discovered that Thompson-Center had concealed and lied about the existence of a videotape of a test in which a Contender pistol drop fired. The test had been done by Thompson's production manager in the presence of the company president and corporate counsel. All three were caught on the videotape laughing about the gun going off when it hit the ground. This video showed that the production manager had perjured himself and the company had presented a fraudulent defense in Paddock. Mr. Moody then filed a new action on behalf of his client against the company and the individuals alleging fraud, fraud on the court, and other theories. Because it was apparent Mr. Moody would be a key witness, one of his partners, Dan Fitzgerald, served as trial counsel. The court awarded $1,199,952 compensatory damages and $3,599,853 punitive damages. A large confidential settlement resulted.

Taylor v. Savage Arms, Inc., 3KN-90-922 Civil. Mr. Moody was hired by another attorney to represent an 11-year-old boy who was struck in the head by a .22 caliber bullet from a rifle that discharged when the barrel and action hit a wooden platform after they fell off the stock. This case alleged that the accident occurred because the design of the gun was defective and that the fastener failed because the metal used was too soft to hold the gun together reliably. Injuries included traumatic brain injury, hemiparesis, bowel and bladder incontinence, and visual field deficits. The manufacturer claimed the gun was not defective and that the fastener had been changed by others after the gun was sold. After trial, the case settled for $5,300,000.

All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)

Gundersen v. Yamaha, 3AN-89-7605 Civil. Mr. Moody was the attorney for a 5-year-old Alaska Native girl who received serious head injuries when struck by a high performance Yamaha Banshee ATV being driven at high speed by a teenager. This action was filed against the manufacturer for defective design and against the retailer for selling the vehicle to a fifteen-year-old in violation of the ATV Consent Decree between the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the ATV manufacturers. Protracted litigation ensued, which ultimately resulted in a confidential settlement for the injured minor.

Machinery

Hanson v. The Hotsy Corporation and Kohler Corporation, Case No. 3KN-95-983 Civil. This case was on behalf of a mechanic burned while attempting to drain contaminated gasoline from the engine of a hot water pressure washer. As he drained the gasoline through a quick drain at the bottom of the tank, the metal can touched an electrical lead where it attached to the back of a switchplate, causing a flash fire that resulted in severe burns to his face, hands and chest. This action was brought against the manufacturer of the pressure washer and the manufacturer of the gasoline engine, alleging design defect. Confidential settlements were reached on the eve of trial.


NEGLIGENCE

Automobile Accidents

Rowe v. Bryant, Case No. 3AN-99-4149 Civil. Mr. Moody was counsel for a young man who suffered skull fractures, facial fractures, leg fractures and brain injury when ejected from a vehicle that ran off the roadway into a ditch, rolled and flipped several times. This action alleged that the driver was negligent for driving the vehicle at a very high speed, losing control and running off the road. The negligent driver added General Motors as a party, alleging a defective door latch system. After extensive litigation involving numerous technical experts and depositions around the country, a large confidential settlement was reached.

Hanna v. ARCO Alaska, 2BA-85-0013 Civil. Mr. Moody was counsel for the estate of an unmarried surveyor who was killed at the Kuparuk oilfield on the North Slope when his Suburban was struck head-on by a Suburban driven by a negligent ARCO engineer. On the eve of trial, the case settled for $2,000,000.

Brain Injury

Armstrong v. Visions International and United States, A00-0031 (JWS). Mr. Moody was lead counsel for a 16-year-old boy who suffered brain damage due to a prolonged seizure while attending an outdoor camp near Tok Alaska. This action alleged the camp misrepresented the medical care available in this remote area and failed to handle this medical emergency properly. It also alleged the village health clinic failed to provide oxygen, anti-seizure medications, and adequate emergency medical response. After five years of intense legal battles, and just before trial, the case settled for $4,800,000.

Oilfield Injury

Kreger v. Amoco, 3KN-85-1414 Civil. Mr. Moody was lead counsel for a roughneck working on an oil drilling platform in Cook Inlet who was injured when a wireline unit failed, causing a steel sinker bar to break off the wireline, fall 90 feet from the derrick, and impale him through the thigh. Injuries included gangrene, loss of function, disfigurement, and economic losses. Confidential settlement.

Roadway Maintenance

Wilson v. Kenai Peninsula Borough, 3KN-93-0514 Civil. This action was brought on behalf of a man rendered paraplegic when he encountered a large hole while operating his snow machine at a high rate of speed on a gravel road through an undeveloped subdivision. This action alleged the borough negligently failed to maintain the road, for which it received state maintenance funds. The defense alleged that the accident was caused by plaintiff operating his snow machine at speeds approaching 100 miles per hour. A large confidential settlement was reached.

Scuba Diving

Dries v. Alaska Mining & Diving, Inc., 3AN-92-3901 Civil. Co-counsel for a young woman who suffered near drowning due to overweighting and inadequate supervision while participating in a scuba training course with a dry suit. Injuries included traumatic brain injury and paralysis. Confidential multi-million dollar settlement.

Federal Tort Claims

Schaps v. USA, A80-202 Civil. A young attorney was working in Bethel, Alaska as a Vista volunteer. He had a respiratory illness, and went to the local hospital, operated by the Indian Health Service. He told the emergency room doctor he thought he had pneumonia, but was misdiagnosed and twice sent home. When his condition worsened he returned to the emergency room and was admitted, but it was too late, and he died of staph pneumonia. On the first day of trial, the government agreed to a large, confidential settlement.

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