Even an experienced attorney can be surprised by a $37 million verdict. Even when its for their own client.
It was not anywhere near what I had been expecting, said Marc Levy, the attorney for Jennifer Latham in a court fight against Assurant Healthcare that lasted more than three years.
Latham of Lafayette, formerly of Longmont, was badly hurt in October 2005 when Shawn Todaro, fleeing from the Colorado State Patrol, hit her car. She spent six weeks in the hospital; her then-husband Frank Alex Latham spent eight.
Todaro got a 30-year-prison sentence, but didnt pay the medical bills. Neither did Assurant Healthcare; the company canceled Lathams policy after the accident.
She sued in 2006. After three years of motions between Levy and the companys attorneys, a two-week trial finally ended Friday with a $37 million breach of contract verdict against Assurant.
We asked the jury to look at if what they did was OK, because we didnt think it was, Levy said. They said no. Thats the best part of this. Thats why Jenny wanted to do this so it would be public.
Assurant Healthcare could not be reached for comment.
Its not certain how much of the award will hold up if Assurant appeals. A Pacific Research Institute study released in 2008 found Colorado to have the strongest tort reform laws in the nation, and Levy noted that he tries never to predict what a jury or appellate court might do.
But for now, he said, Latham is thrilled with the victory.
She feels fantastic, Levy said. She just wanted her day in court and she wanted other people to see what the company was doing. Unfortunately, it takes a big verdict for people to listen.
Scott Rochat can be reached at 303-684-5220 or [email protected].