Citizens Insurance loses "disingenuous" argument that victim waived PIP rights
Rebecca Pitsch was badly hurt in a 1994 car accident. The at-fault motorist had $50,000.00 in coverage and paid it to her for her "third-party" damages (pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, economic losses after 3 years). Eventually, she had to sue her own carrier, Citizens Insurance, in a "series" of lawsuits to collect PIP benefits (primarily medical expenses). Each time she would sue, Citizens would eventually pay up, and then stopping paying again. In 2008, Pitsch was forced to sue again, and for the first time, Citizens argued that the 1994 Release which Pitsch executed to secure the 1994 third-party settlement should be binding and release Citizens' obligations as well. The trial court summarily rejected this argument and Citizens appealed.
The Court noted that the language in the 1994 release wasn't intended to release Citizens and wasn't broad enough to do so inadvertently. It characterized Citizens' belated argument on this score as "disingenuous." It also noted that the motion to dismiss based on the earlier release was not even timely. It was, however, "par for the course" in a state where over-confident insurers, certain of the support of judges whom they have helped to nominate and elect, regularly misuse legal process in their dealings with insured victims.