Tuesday, a three-judge panel in a Missouri appellate court rejected Geico’s big to throw out a $35 million arbitration judgment. The judgment came after a drunk driver that Geico insured made an agreement with her motorcyclist victim who lost an arm and leg after being hit. In this agreement, the drunk driver place liability on Geico, in return for admitting fault for the accident. This is possible through a Missouri law that allows insured parties to make a deal with a claimant. The policyholder admits fault but limits all damages to the insurer and avoids any personal liability. This law is referred to as 576.065, and under it, the insurers get 30 days to intervene in these agreements. Geico wanted to join the suit against the drunk driver, but the victim dropped the case under this agreement, without any involvement from Geico.
So now the victim was awarded $35 million through arbitration and submitted this judgment to the court, which confirmed it. Geico tried to block the agreement by claiming they’re right to intervene, but 30 days have long past since the agreement was made. Geico’s motion was denied. Geico went on to claim that they were not liable to cover the drunk driver, but the court brushed this off. They were more concerned with Geico’s inability to intervein within the 30 days given to them. The panel wrote in an opinion:
“Because GEICO presented no evidence that the award was procured by undue means or that Mr. Aguilar (victim) and Ms. Hollandsworth(drunk driver) engaged in intentional misconduct other than to argue that the ‘award has been manufactured solely for purposes of enhancing the damages to be alleged in a subsequent ‘bad faith’ claim against Geico,’ it has failed to demonstrate that the denials of its motions to intervene were arbitrary and unreasonable.”
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