Snyder: Why It's Almost Always Better to Settle
Wednesday, March 10, 2021 | 0
LaQuan Tremell Taylor’s injuries were horrific. The 27-year-old veteran was robbed, carjacked and shot in the parking lot of a Kroger grocery store in Atlanta.
After three weeks in a coma, roughly a year in the hospital, multiple surgeries and millions of dollars of treatment, plaintiff’s spinal cord injury left him a partial paraplegic with scars over his entire body and continuing pain.
Kroger was the primary defendant in his suit for the store’s negligent failure to maintain adequate security.
Kroger’s insurance stacked as follows:
- $3 million in self-insured retention.
- $2 million, ACE American Insurance Co.
- $25 million, Starr Surplus Lines Insurance Co.
- $25 million, Great American Insurance Co. of New York.
- Excess above Great American — XL Insurance America and Chubb Group of Insurance Cos.
Plaintiff’s pretrial demands were within Starr’s coverage limit, but Starr refused to settle. The final judgment exceeded $61 million. It appears that Starr did not attempt to mediate a settlement until after judgment was entered.
Notwithstanding its ill-advised choice, Starr refused to pay more than its policy limit to satisfy the judgment. Great American settled the case and on Feb. 11, 2021, and sued Starr for reimbursement.
The complaint for declaratory judgment alleges that Starr had acted in bad faith and was “stubbornly litigious.” Great American has asked for reimbursement of its settlement contribution plus attorney fees and expenses.
I see many cases that, like the Taylor case, clearly have the potential to “blow up.” Cases settle when parties are willing to spend the necessary time in good faith mediation and make reasonable settlement proposals. When parties are “stubbornly litigious,” the results can be disastrous.
Attorney Teddy Snyder mediates workers' compensation cases throughout California. She can be contacted through snydermediations.com.