Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jurinko v. Medical Protective Co.

July 30, 2009

STEPHEN P. JURINKO, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE MEDICAL PROTECTIVE CO., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rufe, J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This action for bad faith on the part of an insurer has proceeded through a jury trial, post-trial litigation, and an appeal. At trial, Plaintiffs Stephen and Cynthia Jurinko ("Plaintiffs") won a very large award comprised of compensatory and punitive damages. Both Defendant Medical Protective Company ("Defendant") and Plaintiffs appealed with respect to various matters. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals altered only one aspect of the challenged rulings, reducing the amount of the punitive damages award. After entering its Judgment, that court denied rehearing earlier this year. The parties subsequently filed Motions which are presently before the Court. One is Plaintiffs' Motion for Supplemental Attorneys Fees and Statutory Interest,*fn1 in which only the request for attorneys fees remains at issue as the request for statutory interest has been withdrawn.*fn2

The second is Defendant's Amended Motion for Partial Relief from Judgment Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b).*fn3 After a brief review of the relevant factual and procedural background, the Court considers the two Motions at bar.

II. BACKGROUND

The Court assumes familiarity with the facts of this case, which are reviewed in detail in prior opinions of this Court and the opinion of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals,*fn4 and recites only the facts necessary to an understanding of the instant Motions. Plaintiffs sued Defendant for bad faith by an insurer, in violation of Pennsylvania law. Plaintiffs had previously won an insurance malpractice action in state court against Defendant's insured, Dr. Paul Marcincin. The damages awarded in the state court action exceeded Dr. Marcincin's insurance coverage by $1.3 million. However, Plaintiffs determined that Dr. Marcincin had a viable bad faith claim against Defendant based on its conduct in the state litigation, and in return for the assignment of his bad faith claim, they negotiated the release of their claim for the excess judgment against him.

After a trial in this Court, a jury found Defendant liable for bad faith and awarded Plaintiffs compensatory damages of $1,658,345 and punitive damages of $6,250,000. The Court entered judgment in the amount of the total jury award ($7,908,345), and Defendant moved for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial, which Motion was denied. Plaintiffs then moved to mold the verdict, pursuant to the Pennsylvania Bad Faith Statute,*fn5 to include attorneys' fees, costs, and statutory interest. Plaintiffs' Motion was granted in part and denied in part.*fn6 In particular, the Court molded the verdict to reflect attorneys' fees calculated using the lodestar method, as opposed to the percentage of recovery method forwarded by Plaintiffs, and to reflect some but not all of the requested interest and costs. The Court awarded: attorneys' fees in the amount of $323,167.50, plus interest on the fee award in the amount of $46,256.31, for a total attorney-fee-plus-interest award of $369,423.81;*fn7 costs in the amount of $15,438.06; and interest on the compensatory award from October 19, 2005 through the date of the Order at a rate of prime plus three percent.

Defendant appealed and Plaintiffs cross-appealed. Defendant's appeal contested the jury's finding of bad faith, the constitutionality of the jury's punitive damages award, and the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the award. Plaintiffs' cross-appeal contested this Court's partial denial of their Motion to Mold the Verdict, arguing the Court erred in denying their request for additional bad faith interest and in using the lodestar method to calculate attorneys fees rather than the percentage of the recovery method. The Court of Appeals rejected Plaintiffs' contentions on both issues and affirmed this Court's Order molding the verdict. As to Defendant's appeal, the appellate court affirmed the judgment entered on the verdict, but found the punitive damages award unconstitutionally excessive and reduced it to an amount equal to the compensatory damages award. On December 24, 2008, the Court of Appeals filed a Judgment in the matter which reflected the rulings just mentioned and stated that the parties were to bear their own costs.*fn8 Defendant petitioned for rehearing by the Court of Appeals on January 7, 2009, which petition was denied on January 28, 2009.*fn9

On February 11, 2009, Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Supplemental Attorneys' Fees in this Court.*fn10 They did not file a similar request in the Court of Appeals. Plaintiffs request additional counsel fees in the amount of $125,436.25 for certain work performed between November 8, 2005, and February 10, 2009 by Mark W. Tanner, Esquire, and Peter M. Newman, Esquire, both of the law firm of Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig, and Mark Frost, Esquire, and Greg Zeff, Esquire, both of the law firm of Frost & Zeff. Based on the itemized statements of hours worked that were submitted in support of Plaintiffs' Motion, it appears that Plaintiffs seek counsel fees for work done in connection with the post-trial and appellate litigation described above, as well as for work done to prepare the instant Motion.

On March 27, 2009, Defendant filed its Amended Motion for Partial Relief from Judgment Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). Defendant asks the Court to reduce the amount of the previously ordered fee award for Plaintiffs' attorneys, on the basis of the Court of Appeals' decision reducing the punitive damages award herein to the maximum amount that is constitutionally permissible in this case. Defendant argues' that the attorney fee award should be reduced to an extent that is proportionate to the extent of the reduction of the overall damages award effectuated through the ruling of the Court of Appeals.

On April 3, 2009, Plaintiffs filed a praecipe to mark the judgment satisfied, without prejudice to Plaintiffs' Motion for Supplemental Attorneys Fees.*fn11 The Clerk of Court marked the judgment satisfied on April 6, 2009.

The two Motions described above have been fully briefed and are ripe for disposition. They are addressed in turn, below.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiffs' Motion for Supplemental ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.