The Daily

The ‘Win At Any Cost’ Mentality of Insurance Defense

Over one hundred thousand dollars in sanctions upheld against an insurance defense lawyer for deliberately poisoning a trial to benefit his client. And it worked – at least for his client, if not for him. I am not surprised in the least. Plaintiffs: Choose your lawyer carefully, and this won’t happen.

Hurt was representing the health care providers and, after the court denied his request to withdraw his clients’ response to requests for admission and denied his motion for mistrial, he began sabotaging the trial, according to court documents. He did so by violating court orders on simple evidentiary matters and putting information before the jury that was either not in evidence or that the court excluded from evidence, court documents state.

“Most troubling, however, was his refusal to abide by the court’s very simple and straightforward order not to make any argument contrary to his client’s response to the requests for admission. The record is replete with the court sustaining Mrs. Johnson’s objections to improper argument, the court explaining once again to Mr. Hurt that he could not make that argument and the court instructed the jury to disregard improper argument. Nevertheless, Mr. Hurt was undeterred,” wrote Judge Julie H. O’Kane in her October 2018 decision.

She added that “[w]hen viewed in isolation, each of the incidents mentioned above might not create the type of harm necessary for a mistrial or a new trial.”

“However, when considered cumulatively, the court concludes that Mrs. Johnson was denied a fair trial,” Judge O’Kane said.

The admissions were statements from the health care providers that spoke to the causation of Johnson’s health problems, court documents state. Hurt had argued that the health care providers were “shocked” and “totally surprised” by the admissions, and he told the court he had “no idea that those responses to requests for admissions existed,” according to court documents.

“The court’s finding in its order, entered seven and a half years after the verdict, that Mr. Hurt intended to sabotage the trial after the court denied his motion to withdraw his clients’ responses to requests for admission is simply baseless,” Hurt argued in his initial appeal brief. “The record simply does not demonstrate the type of egregious, intentional, vexatious and bad faith conduct that is required in order for the court to exercise its inherent authority to impose monetary sanctions for alleged bad faith litigation conduct.”

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