Attorneys fees and prejudgment interest in USCPA: TENNESSEE FARMERS MUT. INS. CO. v. JONES (COA 9/12/08)

TENNESSEE FARMERS MUTUAL INS. CO. v. JONES
INSURANCE:  Attorneys fees and prejudgment interest award affirmed in UCSPA
Claim
2007-CA-000911
Published: Affirming
Panel:  Lambert presiding; Dixon, Stumbo Concur
Whitley County
Date Rendered: 9/12/2008

  The Court affirmed a circuit court judgment finding personal jurisdiction against the appellant Tennessee insurer and awarding attorney’s fees and prejudgment interest to appellee on a claim for that the insurer violated the Kentucky Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, KRS 304.12-230, related to a claim for personal injuries appellee received in an automobile accident.  Appellant insured the Tennessee resident who owned the vehicle driven by the person responsible for the causing collision.  The Court held that the trial court did not err in finding personal jurisdiction through Kentucky’s long-arm statute.  The accident occurred in Kentucky; appellee, a Kentucky resident, filed her third-party claim in Kentucky; there was no privity of contract between appellee and appellant in any state; and appellant investigated and adjusted the claim in Kentucky.  Further, allowing the insurer to ignore a legitimate claimant would under undermine the intent of the UCSPA.  The Court then held that the trial court properly awarded appellee attorney’s fees and prejudgment interest under KRS 304.12-235.  While the statute was ambiguous on whether interest and attorney fees were available to third-party claimants, KRS 304.12-230 evinced the intent by the legislature to allow for a more expansive reading of the statute.  The Court finally held that appellee’s failure to move the trial court for a new trial, precluded the Court from reviewing her argument on cross-appeal that she was entitled to a new trial on damages.

DR filed 10/15/2008 Opinion by Judge Lambert; Judges Dixon and Stumbo concurred.

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