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Roberts v. Printup

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

February 17, 2010, Filed

No. 08-3189

Opinion

 [*1183]  SEYMOUR, Circuit Judge.

Brenda C. Roberts appeals the district court's decision that barred her garnishment action against Shelter Mutual Insurance Company ("Shelter"), which sought collection of a judgment in excess of policy limits. We reverse.

On April 21, 2000, Patrick Printup, Jr., Ms. Robert's sixteen-year old son, was driving their car when the car's brakes failed. 1 The car struck a utility pole, chain link fence, and park bench. As a result, Ms. Roberts, a passenger at the time of the accident, was badly injured.

The car was titled and registered to both Ms.  [**2] Roberts and Mr. Printup and was [*1184]  insured by Shelter. The insurance policy provided up to $ 25,000 in liability coverage per person for both property damage and bodily injury, and $ 4,500 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Shelter received notice of the accident on April 25, 2000. "Shelter logged the incident as a Code 39, which means, 'one-car accident, insured at fault.'" District Court Order at 3 P 10 (July 10, 2008) ("Order"). Shelter's note on the accident file stated: "'may have BI' (bodily injury) and that PIP would apply and that medical information should be collected." Id. P 13. After Ms. Roberts told one of Shelter's employees that she did not believe her son was at fault, however, Shelter did not further investigate the circumstances of the accident. In June 2000, Ms. Roberts submitted an application to Shelter for PIP benefits. Shelter thereafter paid $ 4,500 towards Ms. Roberts's medical bills, exhausting the policy's PIP benefits.

Ms. Roberts was still being treated for her injuries in February 2002, 2 having had four surgeries and a skin graft. Aple. App. at 23. On April 11, 2002, Ms. Roberts consulted counsel regarding the quality of her medical care. On her counsel's  [**3] advice, Ms. Roberts hand wrote a letter to Shelter offering to settle for policy limits to satisfy all her claims against Printup, Shelter's insured, arising from the accident. 3 The letter explained the nature of her injury, her ongoing treatment, and estimated medical expenses in excess of $ 150,000. Aplt. App. at 37. She sent the letter to protect her claim against the two-year statute of limitations for filing claims against Printup, which was expiring on April 22, 2002. As the district court noted, the letter stated: "I am running out of time and need your answer within ten days." Id. at 7 P 27. The district court found that Ms. Roberts and her attorney "had an agreement that if Shelter paid its policy limits of $ 25,000 before the statute of limitations expired, [she] would not owe attorney fees on her recovery." Id. P 29. She "instructed her attorney to dismiss the lawsuit if Shelter accepted her offer before the statute of limitations expired, but to serve defendant if Shelter did not accept her offer." Id. P 31. The lawsuit was filed "on April 16, 2002, [requesting] issuance of summons on April 24." Id. Ms. Roberts notified her attorney when she had not received a response  [**4] from Shelter at the end of ten days, aplt. app. at 72, and he permitted the lawsuit to go forward.

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595 F.3d 1181 *; 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 3121 **

BRENDA C. ROBERTS, Plaintiff-Judgment Creditor-Appellant, v. PATRICK PRINTUP, JR., Defendant-Judgment Debtor, SHELTER MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Garnishee-Appellee.

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. (D.C. No. 2:02-CV-02333-CM).

Roberts v. Printup, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53254 (D. Kan., July 10, 2008)

CORE TERMS

insurer, settlement offer, district court, lawsuit, bad faith, settlement, policy limit, deadline, handling, damages, expired, excess judgment, time-sensitive, factors, statute of limitations, good faith, circumstances, settle, Aplt, ten days, intervening, manufacture, quotation, exposure, fault, marks

Insurance Law, Commercial General Liability Insurance, Obligations of Parties, Settlements, Civil Procedure, Trials, Bench Trials, Appeals, Standards of Review, Clearly Erroneous Review, De Novo Review, Preliminary Considerations, Federal & State Interrelationships, Erie Doctrine, Jurisdiction, Diversity Jurisdiction, General Overview, Claim, Contract & Practice Issues, Torts, Elements, Duty, Standards of Care, Reasonable Care, Liability & Performance Standards, Settlements, Good Faith & Fair Dealing, Bad Faith & Extracontractual Liability, Payment Delays & Denials, Reasonable Basis, Third Party Claims, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Causation, Intervening Causation, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation