Families seeking $30.00 per hour round-the-clock "life skills" attendant care services lose appeal
Pamela Armisted and the guardians of five other severely brain-injured families sued State Farm Mutual to recover attendant care benefits that State Farm deemed excessive. State Farm paid the families for 24-hour care, apparently, however, it refused to pay them $30.00 per hour based on the market cost of "life skills trainers." After extensive discovery which resulted in the court sanctioning State Farm for misconduct, a 20-day trial was held. The jury ultimately accepted State Farm's argument that if the families had actually provided such extensive care, they should have generated extensive documentation to confirm it. On that basis, the jury ruled that the families were not entitled to the higher per-hour payment rate.The families appealed, arguing that the jury verdict form was unfair and inconsistent. The court pointed out, however, that the form was completely consistent with the Trial Judge's instructions and that it had actually been proposed by the families' attorneys. Even though it implied that no services were rendered by the families, the parties and court had expressly instructed the jury to consider only those attendant care benefits which were in dispute and had NOT already been paid.
The court also dismissed State Farm's appeal of the families' right to discovery sanctions, noting that since that Court had not yet decided on the amount of sanctions, this issue was premature.