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Court agrees insurance attorney guilty of deliberate, repeated misconduct, but still upholds insurer verdict

Stacy Ann Yost sued Howard Falker after he injured her in a car accident.  She claimed that a facial scar met the threshold for recovery because it constituted a "permanent serious disfigurement" under the no fault act.  From Opening Statement through cross-examination of multiple witnesses and then again in Closing Argument, Falker's insurance attorney argued that Yost was litigious, consulted her attorney too quickly, was following the lead of TV-advertising lawyers and generally contributing to an overly-litigous society. 

None of these efforts to prejudice the jury were related to the actual seriousness or permanence of Yost's injury and none were relevant.  The Court noted that they clearly crossed the line of proper argument and consituted a deliberate attempt to use innuendo and bias to divert the jury's attention from its proper duties.  Nevertheless, on the basis of a jury note requesting information from the judge about the impact of the "permanent disfigurement" threshold, the Court refused to set aside the verdict the wrongful conduct achieved. 

So the lesson for future insurance attorneys is to ignore the rules and use prejudice and innuendo as effectively as possible:  at worst, the case will be delayed and re-tried.  At best, you'll achieve a favorable verdict that will be upheld despite your misconduct.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
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