Yesterday a Salt Lake City jury returned a verdict against Utah Medical Insurance Association on a bad-faith medical malpractice claim brought by Dr. Renato Saltz, a prominent local plastic surgeon. UMIA Insurance, Inc. v. Renalto Saltz, M.D., Civil #160907287 (Hon Keith Kelly).
On the underlying claim brought by Conilyn Judge against Dr. Saltz, UMIA defended the doctor for some eight years. Eventually, UMIA determined that it would not cover the claim. Dr. Saltz then paid Ms. Judge $500,000 of his own money to settle the case. An action for declaratory relief was filed by UMIA, to which Dr. Saltz responded with a counterclaim for bad faith and breach of contract.
The action was tried to a Salt Lake jury over two and a half weeks. Dr. Saltz’ essential claim was that UMIA was estopped from denying coverage under its policy due to the lapse of time and several other actions it took (See Counterclaim). The jury agreed– finding that UMIA should reimburse Dr. Saltz for the $500,000 he paid. It also awarded another $500,000 in damages to Dr. Saltz for UMIA’s breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. (A claim for punitive damages had been dismissed earlier by Judge Kelly.)
Here’s a copy of the Special Verdict form. Attorneys’ fees– which will be substantial– will be later determined by Judge Kelly.