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Suite 230
South Jordan, UT
(Salt Lake County)
84095

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J Joyce & Associates

Case Studies

The following is a synopsis of recently tried cases, summary judgments and arbitrated matters. J. Joyce & Associates continues to be the leader in the personal injury defense arena in Utah. No other firm tries as many personal injury defense cases with as many favorable outcomes, while limiting the expense of litigation from the beginning of the case to the successful resolution of the matter.

Trials

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Third Judicial District Court
Case No. 090913121
Judge Ryan M. Harris

Two day jury trial from November 22-23, 2011.  The jury returned a no cause defense verdict.

In Shepherd adv. Terry, the defendants’ dog bit the plaintiff on the hand while he was staying at their house taking care of their dogs. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants were liable for his injuries under Utah’s strict liability dog-bite statute.  Defense counsel, Ryan J. Schriever and Joseph J. Joyce, responded that the plaintiff was a “keeper” and that the strict liability statute did not apply.

The plaintiff asserted he was not a keeper because he did not intend to care for the dogs as the defendants would have.  Mr. Schriever and Mr. Joyce argued that the plaintiff was a keeper because he performed most, if not all, of the tasks a dog owner would normally perform.  The court instructed the jury that a keeper “is someone who, at least temporarily, assumes custody, management and control of the dog, or who undertakes to manage, control, or care for the dog as dog owners in general are accustomed to do.”  After weighing the facts and considering the credibility of the witnesses, the jury concluded that the plaintiff was a keeper and that the defendants were not liable for the plaintiff’s injury.

Third Judicial District Court
Case No. 080907838
Judge Kate A. Toomey

Three day jury trial from August 11-13, 2010.  After the trial, the jury returned a verdict that was significantly more favorable than the defendant's last settlement offer.

The case of Tran v. Trane involved a T-bone accident in which the defendant admitted she ran a stop sign and collided with the defendant on December 12, 2007.  The plaintiff was a young woman who, as a congenital amputee, was born without part of her left leg.  The accident in question was the plaintiff's second accident in a four-month period, and she allegedly sustained whiplash injuries from both accidents.  From the plaintiff's perspective, the second accident was more significant than the first because the knee joint of her prosthetic leg did not function properly after the collision.  She asserted it was damaged beyond repair and asked the jury to award her more than $16,000 to replace it.

Joseph J. Joyce and Ryan J. Schriever defended the case and presented evidence that the prosthetic leg had already been repaired multiple times before the accident and that the evidence was insufficient to demonstrate a causal connection between the accident and the damage to the knee joint.  Through cross-examination of the plaintiff, Mr. Joyce established that the plaintiff's recollection of events was questionable, that the first accident was more likely to have caused damage to the leg, and that there was no physical evidence pointing to actual damage to the leg.  Mr. Schriever cross-examined the plaintiff's expert prosthetist, and pointed out that the prosthetic leg was worn out prior to both accidents, had been repaired multiple times, and that the expert lacked foundation to draw a causal connection between the accident and the alleged knee damage.

After deliberating for several hours, the jury awarded the plaintiff $6,392 for medical expenses, awarded nothing for the prosthetic leg, and gave only $500 for pain and suffering.

Third Judicial District Court of Utah
Case # 070910641
Judge Joseph C. Fratto, Jr.

On November 18, 2009, a jury entered a favorable defense verdict finding the defendant only 20% at fault in a motor vehicle accident.

Joseph J. Joyce and Ryan J. Schriever successfully defended a lawsuit arising from a motor vehicle accident in which both liability and damages were at issue.  The accident happened on November 22, 2005 at the intersection of Redwood Road and 200 South in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The plaintiff was a passenger in a southbound vehicle driven by her husband.  The defendant was turning left from Redwood Road onto westbound I-80.  The defendant testified that he waited in the left hand turn lane at the intersection until the light turned yellow, and began turning when the intersection appeared to be clear.  The plaintiff's husband testified that he had a green light, but he may have sped up as he approached the intersection because the light was turning yellow.  Testimony from at least two witnesses confirmed that another southbound car adjacent to the plaintiff's vehicle stopped before entering the intersection where the defendant was waiting to make the left turn.  After weighing the evidence, the jury concluded that the plaintiff's husband was 80% at fault for the accident and that the defendant was only 20% at fault.

Approximately one year before trial, the parties attempted to settle the case through mediation, however, the plaintiff declined to accept the defendant's settlement offer of $25,000.  One of the hindrances to settlement was the plaintiff's claim that she was no longer able to work after the accident.  At trial, the plaintiff presented an expert witness who testified that the plaintiff suffered from post traumatic stress disorder that affected her cognitively and emotionally.  The defendant presented an opposing expert witness who testified that, although the plaintiff suffered from depression, the plaintiff's medical history did not support a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder.  The defense expert further testified that there was no objective evidence of a traumatic brain injury and that the evidence did not support the plaintiff's causation argument.  During closing arguments, Mr. Joyce urged the jury to award the plaintiff her reasonable and necessary medical expenses, but argued against any significant damages for lost wages.  The jury deliberated for approximately two hours and ultimately awarded $28,564.51 in economic and non-economic damages.  The defendant was found liable for 20% of that amount, or $5,712.91.

Third Judicial District Court
Case # 040922873
Judge Robert P. Faust

Jury verdict in favor of defendants returned on June 16, 2009.

Joseph J. Joyce and Ryan J. Schriever successfully defended Hoj Engineering in a wrongful death lawsuit that arose from an industrial accident. The plaintiff in the matter was killed by a large piece of warehouse equipment called a dock leveler that is utilized to bridge the gap between the warehouse and a trailer. On the day of the accident, the plaintiff finished unloading his trailer and walked behind the dock leveler to shut the trailer door when the heavy dock plate unexpectedly came down on the plaintiff, crushing him against the trailer door. The plaintiff died as a result of his injuries, and his family sued the dock leveler manufacturer and Hoj Engineering, the installer of the dock leveler. The plaintiff alleged damages in excess of $2,000,000.

The facts showed that the dock leveler had been installed two years prior to the incident, and Mr. Joyce and Mr. Schriever presented evidence to rebut the plaintiff’s theory of negligent installation. After a seven-day trial, the jury found that Hoj Engineering was not negligent and the court entered a defense verdict in favor of Hoj Engineering.

Second Judicial District Court
Case # 070700401
Judge Michael G. Allphin

Jury verdict for plaintiff in the amount of $49,450.50 returned on June 4, 2009. Two weeks prior to trial the plaintiff offered to settle for $90,000.00.

Joseph J. Joyce defended a rear-end accident that occurred on I-15 near Bountiful, Utah. The plaintiff was diagnosed with chronic low back pain that resulted from disc bulges in her lumbar spine. Her expert witness testified that she would need pain medication, anti-inflammatories and steroid injections indefinitely. Two weeks before trial, the plaintiff offered to settle for $90,000. After a three-day trial, the jury returned a verdict of $49,450.00, most of which was allocated to future medical treatment for ongoing pain.

Seventh Judicial District Court
Case # 070700310
Judge Douglas B. Thomas

Jury verdict in favor of defendant finding that plaintiff was 50% at fault; verdict returned February 6, 2009.

Joseph J. Joyce successfully defended an auto-pedestrian accident that occurred on Highway 6 north of Price, Utah. The plaintiff had pulled off the side of the road to inspect a flat tire on his trailer. As he turned to walk back toward his truck, he was struck by the defendant’s vehicle. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff sustained a leg fracture that required surgery. The dispute in the case centered around whether the plaintiff was on the right side of the white line or whether he had stepped to the left, over the white line and into the lane of travel. There were four eyewitnesses to the accident and two of them testified that they saw the plaintiff step into the lane of travel. The plaintiff claimed that he had not stepped into the lane of travel and he sued to recover over $32,000 in medical expenses plus general damages.

The case was tried to a jury over three days after which the jury returned a verdict apportioning the fault evenly between the plaintiff and the defendant. Because the defendant’s fault did not exceed that of the plaintiff, the court entered a defense verdict.

Third Judicial District Court
Case # 060910364
Judge Kate A. Toomey

Jury verdict after a three day trial that ended December 12, 2008 in which the plaintiff incurred over $25,000 in medical expenses, but the jury’s total award was only $10,500.

Joseph J. Joyce and Clint A. McAdams defended an automobile negligence case in which the plaintiff was a passenger in a truck that the defendant had allegedly attempted to run off the road. The driver of the truck then pulled up behind the defendant at an intersection, and while the plaintiff was attempting to record the defendant’s license plate number, the defendant allegedly backed up and hit the truck.

The plaintiff sought extensive chiropractic treatment for neck and back pain, and she eventually incurred over $25,000 for treatments that included at least 80 trigger point injections. The defendant filed an offer of judgment for $7,000. The plaintiff rejected that offer and demanded policy limits of $25,000. After a three-day trial, the jury returned a verdict of $8,500.

Case # 050914455
Judge John P. Kennedy
Jury verdict in product liability case finding the defendant was not liable after a five day trial that ended on December 5, 2008.

Joseph J. Joyce and Ryan J. Schriever successfully defended a products liability case involving a locking nut system designed to retain the wheels on large trailers. The accident occurred on I-15 when a dual wheel assembly came off a semi-trailer and began rolling down the freeway. An oncoming SUV swerved to miss the dual wheels and ran across the center median where it collided nearly head-on with the plaintiff. The plaintiff sustained a significant brain injury in the accident and was asserting a damages claim with a potential value in excess of $15,000,000 .

The highway patrol recovered the dual wheel assembly, but did not find a key component of the locking nut system, i.e. a locking ring that keeps the nut from spinning inside the hub. The plaintiff alleged that the locking ring was defective and had been ejected in small pieces through a hole in the wheel assembly.

During the five-day trial, Mr. Joyce and Mr. Schriever presented evidence that a diesel mechanic shop had recently worked on the wheel assembly and had failed to reinstall the locking ring into the nut. As such, the defense asserted that the accident was caused by the mechanic’s negligence and not a defect in the locking mechanism. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury deliberated and returned a defense verdict.

Fourth Judicial District Court
Case # 070102252
Judge David N. Mortensen

Three day trial that ended on October 30, 2008 in which the award was reduced to $0 because the jury verdict was less than the amount of PIP insurance that had been paid.

Joseph J. Joyce successfully defended a case brought by a man who was hit by the defendant in Provo Canyon near Sundance Ski Resort. The accident happened on February 15, 2006 when the canyon roads were covered in ice. The plaintiff and defendant were traveling in opposite directions when the defendant lost control of his vehicle on the icy roads and collided with the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff was transported to a local emergency room and treated for back pain. Over the course of the following year, the plaintiff incurred over $10,000 in chiropractic treatment.

After a three day jury trial, a jury found that only $2,068.48 of the plaintiff’s claimed medical expenses were reasonable and necessary. That amount was less than the $3,000 PIP threshold required to make a claim for general damages and the judge entered a defense verdict

Fourth Judicial District Court
Case # 050403069
Judge Samuel McVey

The plaintiff was ordered to pay defense costs because the jury verdict was nearly $6,000 less than the defendant’s offer of judgment.

On June 26, 2008, Joseph J. Joyce received a favorable verdict after successfully defending a case that arose from an automobile accident which caused the defendant to lose control of his vehicle and careen into an adjacent parking lot. The plaintiff had just parked in the parking lot and was pulling his young child out of the car when he saw the defendant’s vehicle coming toward him. The plaintiff grabbed the child and jumped out of the way, injuring his knee when he stepped onto the curb next to his car.

After settlement negotiations broke down, the defendant filed an offer of judgment of $18,450. The plaintiff declined that offer and proceeded to trial where the jury only awarded him $12,629. Because the verdict was less than the offer of judgment, the court awarded the defendant his costs.

Third Judicial District Court
Case # 050902705
Judge Tyrone Medley
Jury verdict on April 8, 2008 in favor of defendants finding that insured clients were not negligent

Joseph J. Joyce and Ryan J. Schriever successfully defended a young boy and his parents in a case that arose from an accident that happened while the young defendant was pulling another young boy in a toy car with a bungee cord. The accident happened in the plaintiffs’ driveway while the plaintiff’s father was at home supervising the children. As the defendant pulled the plaintiff in the car with the bungee cord, the bungee cord came loose and hit the young plaintiff in the eye. The parents of the injured young man filed suit against the defendant and his parents alleging physical and emotional injuries. During the course of a five day trial, the plaintiffs presented the testimony of an expert economist who valued the plaintiffs’ economic damages in excess of $2.5 million.

Upon conclusion of the trial, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict finding that the defendant’s parents had not been negligent and that the young boy had acted as a reasonable and prudent seven year old child. An appeal is pending.

Summary Judgments

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Third Judicial District Court, West Jordan Department
Case No. 070417880
Judge Mark Kouris

Summary Judgment granted in favor of the defendant on September 2, 2010.

The case of Flamm adv Petty was a premises liability matter in which the defendant, Flamm, employed  the plaintiff, Petty, as the caretaker of his residential property.  In January of 2006, Petty was working to repair a garden shed on the property when he allegedly fell from a ladder and injured his shoulder.  After his employment was terminated one and a half years after the accident, Petty sued Flamm asserting claims for negligence and noncompliance with the Workers Compensation Act.

Joseph J. Joyce and Ryan J. Schriever defended the case on the basis that Flamm was not negligent and that the  workers compensation law allows employers to defend against cases in which they are not negligent.  Upon concluding fact discovery, Mr. Joyce and Mr. Schriever moved for summary judgment.  The court considered the parties' respective arguments and agreed with the defendant's position that Flamm did not commit any negligent act or omission that caused the injury.  As such, the court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment.

Third Judicial District Court
Case # 070500363
Judge Bruce C. Lubeck
Summary Judgment was granted on November 24, 2008 by Judge Bruce C. Lubeck.

The case of Campbell Scientific involved a contract dispute brought by Coalville City after an irrigation reservoir constructed by some of the co-defendants leaked and needed to be repaired. Campbell Scientific had supplied equipment that monitored and controlled the flow of water in and out of the reservoir. Despite the fact that Campbell Scientific’s equipment functioned exactly as it should have, the city named everyone involved in the project as defendants. The attorneys at J. Joyce & Associates filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that Coalville City could not directly sue Campbell Scientific because it did not have privity of contract with Campbell Scientific. After extensive briefing and oral arguments, the trial court agreed with the defendant and granted Campbell Scientific’s motion for summary judgment.

Third Judicial District Court
Case # 070916695
Judge Robert K. Hilder

Summary Judgment was granted on October 16, 2008 by Judge Robert K. Hilder.

The case of Hunt adv Carman involved a physical altercation that occurred in an attorney’s law office between the attorney’s client and the client’s former business partners. The law firm of J. Joyce & Associates successfully defended the attorney on a motion for summary judgment by arguing that neither the attorney nor his secretary could be held liable for the altercation.

Third Judicial District Court
Case # 050918884
Judge Kate A. Toomey

Summary Judgment was granted on July 1, 2008 by Judge Kate A. Toomey

Joseph J. Joyce and Ryan J. Schriever successfully moved for summary judgment on behalf of Enterprise Rent-A-Car on a negligent supervision claim. In that case, the plaintiff sued over an accident involving a former employee who had taken a vehicle against company policy and outside the hours and scope of his employment. The plaintiff and the employee filed lengthy memoranda in opposition in an effort to dissuade the judge from granting the motion. Despite that effort, however, the court agreed with the arguments made by defense counsel and granted summary judgment that Enterprise was not negligent in its hiring or supervision of the employee.

Seventh Judicial District Court
Case # 070700251
Judge Lyle R. Anderson
Coverage issue decided on motion for summary judgment in June 2008

The case of Progressive vs. Sheri Griffith Expedition arose out of an insurance coverage dispute involving an accident caused by a motor vehicle that was not listed as an insured vehicle on the insured’s policy. Progressive asked for declaratory judgment that it did not owe a duty to indemnify or defend based on the fact that the vehicle was not insured under the insurance contract. The court agreed with the arguments made by counsel and granted the motion.

Third Judicial District Court
Case # 060920574
Judge Robert K. Hilder

Summary Judgment granted on April 14, 2008 by Judge Robert K. Hilder.

In Briggs & Stratton adv Hicks, the attorneys at J. Joyce & Associates successfully moved for dismissal of the complaint because the plaintiff had failed to file his complaint within the two-year statute of limitations period for products liability cases. The plaintiff had purchased a generator and placed the generator in his garage. He alleged that a fire started in his garage on December 27, 2003, however, he did not file his complaint until December 22, 2006. The plaintiff opposed the motion by asserting that his claim should fall under the four year statute of limitations because he had pleaded a negligence cause of action rather than a products liability cause of action. Ultimately, the court rejected the plaintiff’s argument and granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss.

Arbitrations

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Arbitration award issued on September 8, 2010 resulting in a "no cause" for the defendant.

Ryan J. Schriever defended the case of Argyle adv UAIG which arose out of an automobile accident that occurred on I-15 near the 600 South off-ramp.  The case involved a rear-end collision, and both sides contended the other party was at fault.  The plaintiff asserted that the defendant was driving too fast, failed to maintain a proper lookout and failed to maintain a safe following distance.  The defendant, on the other hand, contended she was traveling at or below freeway speeds when the plaintiff's vehicle suddenly swerved in front of her and that the collision was unavoidable.

At arbitration, the plaintiff's attorney presented testimony from the driver and passenger of the plaintiff's vehicle.  The passenger, Mr. Love, explained that he had run out of gas and left his vehicle on the side of the freeway just south of the 600 South off-ramp.   Love's friend, the driver of the plaintiff's vehicle, was driving the man back to his vehicle with a gas can.  According to Love, his friend began changing lanes to move over a safe distance before the location of the abandoned vehicle.  As the driver changed lanes, Love looked behind him and saw the defendant's vehicle approaching at a high rate of speed.  He sensed an impact was imminent and warned the driver to be careful.  According to Love, the defendant was driving too fast for the circumstances and failed to maintain a proper lookout.

The driver of the plaintiff's vehicle, Mr. Rivero, also testified about the accident.  Rivero agreed with Love that the defendant was driving too fast and he also testified that there was a safe distance between his vehicle and the defendant's vehicle when he made his lane change.  On cross-examination, however, Rivero's testimony contradicted Love's version of the events in significant ways.  Whereas Love testified they began changing lanes before the location of the abandoned vehicle, Rivero testified that Love shouted, "There is the car!" as they drove past it.  Rivero then made a quick lane change and slowed to approximately 45 miles per hour so he could enter the emergency lane before the point where he would be forced to exit the freeway.

Through cross-examination, Mr. Schriever was able to show that the testimony of the plaintiff's witnesses was inconsistent with the physical evidence.  In the end, the arbitrator found the defendant to be the most credible of all the witnesses and he determined that Rivero made an unsafe lane change.  Based on his findings, the arbitrator found that Rivero was more than 50% at fault for the accident and he awarded no damages under Utah's comparative fault statute.

Defense verdict in an arbitration hearing on May 17, 2010.

The case of Progressive adv Gabaldon involved an accident in which an elderly woman was killed after being hit by a motor home while riding her bicycle at night.  The driver of the motor home was not legally intoxicated, but he had a blood alcohol level of 0.06 and he was in possession of an open alcoholic beverage.  The liability carrier for the motor home settled for policy limits and the deceased woman's estate made a claim for underinsured motorist benefits.  At the arbitration hearing, the plaintiff's attorney presented evidence that the accident took place under a street lamp, and he argued that the driver of the motor home should have been able to see the deceased woman in time to avoid the accident.  He further argued that, although the driver was not legally intoxicated, the alcohol likely diminished the driver's reaction time and contributed to the accident.  The driver of the motor home did not testify, but the plaintiff's attorney presented the testimony of a witness who arrived at the accident scene shortly after the impact.  That witness testified as to the location of the nearest street light and she opined that the driver of the motor home had intended to make a right turn and collided with the woman while she was riding on the right shoulder of the road.

The defense attorneys, Ryan J. Schriever and Resh T. Jefferies, disputed the plaintiff's evidence and argued that the plaintiff had not satisfied her burden of proof to show that the driver of the motor home was more than 50% at fault for the accident.  They presented evidence that the woman was wearing dark clothes and had no reflectors or lights on her bicycle.  Relying on photographic evidence, the defense team also showed that there was a significant amount of blood on the left side of the bumper, casting doubt on the plaintiff's argument that the accident happened on the right shoulder of road.  Mr. Schriever and Mr. Jefferies also relied on expert evidence from an accident reconstructionist demonstrating that the driver of the motor home had stopped within a reasonable distance considering the diminished lighting, normal perception time, and the speed of the large vehicle.  When presented with all of the facts of the case, the arbitrator agreed with the defense and found that the plaintiff had failed to satisfy her burden of proof that the driver of the motor home was more than 50% at fault for the accident.  Accordingly, the arbitrator entered a verdict in favor of the defendant.

Favorable arbitration finding on February 8, 2010 in which the plaintiff sought $25,000, but was awarded less than $14,000.

The case of Murphey adv Winn arose out of an automobile accident in which the defendant's vehicle rear-ended the plaintiff's vehicle.  The dispute in the case was whether the accident caused the plaintiff's alleged injuries.  The plaintiff had treated with a chiropractor prior to the accident, but she complained the accident caused her headaches, neck aches, and back pain.  After the accident, the plaintiff received 75 chiropractic treatments during a fourteen month period.  The plaintiff's attorney referred her to Dr. Dennis Wyman for a consultation and an expert opinion.  Dr. Wyman opined that the accident caused the plaintiff to have looseness in the ligaments in her neck, a probable thoracic disc herniation, and disc bulges at C5-C7.   At arbitration, the plaintiff testified she still had pain in her neck and back which made it difficult for her to perform activities of daily life.  The plaintiff claimed she had incurred more than $10,000 in medical bills and asked the arbitrator to award her $25,000 in damages.

J. Joyce and Associates had taken the plaintiff's deposition and presented expert testimony at the arbitration that the plaintiff's disc bulges were not caused by the accident. The arbitrator agreed with the defense that there was insufficient evidence to find that the bulging discs were caused by the accident.  After applying an offset for personal injury protection benefits, the arbitrator awarded the plaintiff $13,619.08, which included an award of prejudgment interest.

Favorable arbitration finding on December 21, 2009 in which the plaintiff sought several hundred thousand dollars in damages, but was awarded less than $50,000.

In Gagon adv. Broadbent, the defendant hit the plaintiff's vehicle broadside while proceeding through a red light.  The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant and demanded arbitration against her own insurer for underinsured motorist benefits.  The parties agreed to arbitrate both claims in the same proceeding.  At the arbitration, the plaintiff claimed she suffered neck pain and mechanical back pain with related leg pain caused by a disc herniation.  She argued that she incurred $48,105.96 in medical expenses and sustained lost wages of $76,881.00.  She further alleged a claim for future medical treatment of $3,000 per year for the remainder of her life and back surgery costing at least $26,000.  In support of these claims, the plaintiff produced expert testimony from Dr. Robin Ockey and two physical therapists.  In total, the plaintiff claimed $124,989.96 in past special damages and more than $150,000 in future damages.

At the arbitration hearing, Joseph J. Joyce conducted a thorough cross-examination of the plaintiff and her expert witnesses and he presented expert testimony from a physician who had conducted an independent medical evaluation.  Based on the evidence, Mr. Joyce successfully argued that the plaintiff had a pre-existing condition that was merely exacerbated by the accident.  Mr. Joyce also effectively showed that the plaintiff's low back pain did not begin until approximately one year after the accident and that it was not caused by the accident.  The arbitrator considered the evidence and determined that the plaintiff had not met her burden of proof to show that her disc herniation was caused by the accident.  The arbitrator limited the plaintiff's medical damages to $17,252.19, limited the wage loss claim to $11,129.45, and did not award any damages for future medical care.  After applying a PIP offset, the total arbitration award was only $49,879.31.

Arbitration finding on May 26, 2009 no award of damages were assessed against Bear River.

In Bear River Mutual Insurance Company adv Humphries the plaintiff was driving in heavy traffic on I-215 when the co-defendant suddenly lost control of her vehicle and collided with the plaintiff. The co-defendant then claimed that a red-colored car had swerved into her lane and caused her to lose control. The alleged “phantom vehicle” had not made contact with the co-defendant’s vehicle and it did not stop at the scene of the accident. Bear River hired J. Joyce & Associates to defend its interests as the insurance company responsible for the negligent acts of uninsured motor vehicles. After taking two depositions and reviewing the evidence, the attorneys at J. Joyce & Associates were able to successfully argue that there was no evidence of negligence on the part of the phantom vehicle. The arbitrator found the co-defendant to be 100% at fault and did not award any damages against Bear River.

Arbitration finding on January 25, 2008 that insured had no liability for the plaintiff’s injuries.

In Padilla adv Comeaux the defendant was fatally shot by the co-defendant as they were driving side by side down the road. The gunshot caused the defendant to lose control of his vehicle and it careened across the center line and collided head on with the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff and co-defendant argued that the defendant should bear some portion of the fault because he had been involved in an ongoing dispute with the co-defendant and could have potentially provoked the co-defendant. The arbitrator disagreed, however, finding no evidence that the defendant was negligent in any way.

Appeals

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The Utah Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the decision on November 14, 2008, 2008 UT App 414,197 P.3d (669)

Joseph J. Joyce and Ryan J. Schriever successfully defended an award of summary judgment on appeal. The issue was whether an injured party had standing to bring a direct cause of action against the tortfeasor’s insurance company in cases where the injured party was not able to locate the tortfeasor in order to collect on a default judgment. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment on the basis that Utah law does not recognize standing to sue an insurance company directly unless efforts to execute a judgment against the insured have been returned unsatisfied.

2007 UT 52, 167 P.3d 1011

On July 17, 2007, the Utah Supreme Court affirmed a grant of summary judgment deciding that a loss of consortium claim does not entitle the loss of consortium plaintiff to recover under a separate policy limit. This case arose out of an accident in which the plaintiff was disabled and his damages easily exhausted the $25,000 policy limit of the Progressive insurance policy. The plaintiff’s wife sued to recover for loss of consortium and argued that she should be entitled to recover an additional $25,000 under the policy because it provided collective coverage for injured persons up to $50,000. The Utah Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment, holding that the mandatory liability coverage found in the insurance code “is tied to the number of persons who sustain a bodily injury or die in an accident involving a motor vehicle, not the number of claims that arise from that accident.” Because the wife’s loss of consortium claim was based on her husband’s bodily injuries, she was not entitled to a separate policy limit.