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Romero v. Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

February 4, 2016

BERTHA N. ROMERO, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLSTATE FIRE & CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

ORDER ON POST-TRIAL MOTIONS

NINA Y. WANG UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

This matter is before the court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and the Order of Reference dated August 21, 2014 [#19], on two pending post-trial motions:

(1) Motion to Alter/Amend the Judgment [#106] filed by Defendant Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Company (“Allstate”) on October 16, 2015; and

(2) Plaintiff’s Amended Motion to Modify Judgment [#107] filed by Plaintiff Bertha N. Romero (“Plaintiff” or “Ms. Romero”) on October 16, 2015.

For the reasons set forth herein, Plaintiff’s Amended Motion to Modify Judgment is DENIED and Defendant’s Motion to Alter/Amend the Judgment is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

BACKGROUND

This case arose from an automobile collision between Plaintiff and a third-party that occurred on November 11, 2011. [#5 at ¶ 5]. At the time, Ms. Romero was insured by Allstate, with underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage in the amount of $25, 000. [Id. at ¶ 10]. After settling with the third-party’s insurance company for her policy limits, Ms. Romero made a demand to Allstate for UIM coverage in the amount of $25, 000. [#70 at 1]. Allstate refused to pay Ms. Romero her policy limits, the Parties were unable to reach any compromise regarding any further payment by Allstate, and Ms. Romero sued Allstate, asserting three causes of action: (1) breach of contract; (2) violation of Colo. Rev. Stat. § 10-3-1116 for unreasonable delay and denial of coverage (“statutory bad faith”); and (3) common law bad faith. [#5]. In her Prayer for Relief, Ms. Romero sought “all general damages, economic damages, all statutory and necessary costs including, but not limited to, expert witness fees and the expenses incurred in investigation and discovery required to present Plaintiff’s claims, attorney fees and interest from the time of the occurrence, post-judgment interest at the requisite rate, and for such other and further relief as this Court shall deem proper, just, and appropriate under the circumstances.” [Id. at 4]. Allstate removed the case to this court, based on diversity jurisdiction. [#1 at ¶ 20].

A jury trial commenced in this action on September 21, 2015. On September 23, 2015, Ms. Romero dismissed her claim for breach of contract, and proceeded to submit her claims for statutory bad faith and common law bad faith to the jury and to verdict. [#90]. The jury rendered a special verdict on September 24, 2015, as follows:

1. Plaintiff Bertha Romero proved, by a preponderance of evidence, that she suffered the following damages caused by the November 28, 2011 motor vehicle accident: $23, 600 in non-economic losses and injuries (past and future); $47, 836.77 in economic losses (past and future); and $0 in physical impairment, for a total of $71, 436.77;

2. Plaintiff Bertha Romero failed to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Defendant Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Company unreasonably delayed in the payment of underinsured motorist benefits in violation of Colo. Rev. Stat. § 10-3-1116; and

3. Plaintiff Bertha Romero failed to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Defendant Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Company acted in common law bad faith in the handling of her claim. [#92].

The undisputed evidence at trial demonstrated that the third-party tortfeasor’s insurance carrier paid $50, 000 in benefits to Plaintiff. In addition, the undisputed evidence demonstrated that Allstate paid $5, 000 in medical payment benefits in favor of Plaintiff. Therefore, the court calculated the total amount of benefits that Plaintiff may collect under her UIM coverage to be $21, 436.77. [#100]. After trial, the court further found that there was no claim upon which Plaintiff prevailed at trial to award the assessment of prejudgment interest, and there is no evidence that prejudgment interest is contemplated by the insurance policy. [Id.] Under Rule 54(b), the court then ordered that each party bear her and its own costs and fees. An Amended Judgment was entered on September 25, 2015 to reflect the Post-Trial Order. [#101].

Each party now seeks to amend the court’s Amended Judgment in this matter. Ms. Romero contends that she should be awarded prejudgment interest under Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-101. [#107 at 1-2]. Plaintiff further contends that she should be awarded costs ($7, 814.85) associated with proving her UIM benefit amount. [Id. at 2]. Allstate requests that the court amend its Judgment to offset any amount due to Plaintiff with the $5, 000 of medical payments already paid to Ms. Romero; clarify that the judgment is entered in favor of Allstate with respect for the claim of statutory bad faith [#106 at 2]; and award costs in its favor under Rule 54(d) or pursuant to ...


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