Court awards case evaluation sanctions against medical malpractice victim
Fiorita Moravcik sued Dr. Brian Piazza, alleging that he botched her care. A case evaluation panel recommended that Piazza and the hospital pay $220,000.00 to settle Moravcik's claim. All parties rejected this recommendation, and Piazza prevailed at trial. When his insurer sought sanctions, though, the trial court pointed out that the insurer had never been willing to compromise the claim, and therefore the Moravcik's rejection of case evaluation did not cause Piazza's insurer to underwrite the trial.
The Court of Appeals rejected this analysis. While trial courts often become frustrated with insurers who absolutely reject any compromise or settlement, and would like to penalize this behavior (or at least not reward it), the Court Rules do not require that a prevailing party demonstrate a willingness to compromise in order to recover the actual expenses of trial. Medical malpractice insurers are notoriously willing to "roll the dice" and gamble on a successful trial outcome, even if it exposes the insured doctor to a signficant debt above the coverage purchased. This attitude is probably in part a result of the "caps" on recoverable damages which protect the malpractice defendants from a "run away jury".
In Michigan, malpractice insurers have also been particularly vindictive in seeking damages from the alleged victim, if the doctor's defense is successful.