California Court of Appeals Enters Decision on Car Accident Case Anti-SLAPP Motion

A recent case before the California Court of Appeals, Ellis v. Mercury Ins. Co., Cal. Ct. App. (2015), dealt with a situation in which a woman was involved in an automobile accident. Following the accident, the woman, hereinafter referred to as the plaintiff, had her car insurance company, the defendant, pay for various medical expenses.

Then, after the plaintiff recovered an arbitration award as against the other driver involved in the car accident, the insurance company sought subrogation from the plaintiff to reimburse for the amount they paid out. (Car insurance policies typically include a subrogation clause, whereby if you get “paid twice” for an expense, they are entitled to be repaid the amount that they have paid out.)

The plaintiff did not tender the amount the insurance company claimed entitlement to pursuant to the subrogation, and the insurance company therefore sought a judgment from her in that amount. In response, the plaintiff filed a complaint against the insurance company, claiming breach of contract and other torts.

The defendant filed an anti-SLAPP motion, which the trial court granted, in addition to costs related to that motion. The court of appeals ultimately agreed with the trial court’s decision on the basis of its application of the litigation privilege.

The litigation privilege is a broad based principle that applies to all communications made in judicial proceedings, by the parties to the litigation, that are generally in furtherance of achieving the objects of the litigation, or are otherwise logically related. The court of appeals agreed that the allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint were all stemming from the defendant’s actions in the underlying litigation pursuing the collection claim.

Therefore, the court of appeals concurred in the trial court’s decision, and the decision granting the motion to strike was affirmed.

This case is illustrative of the fact that financial settlements following a car accident can be complicated, and in some cases confusing. The decision from the court of appeals states that the plaintiff claimed that her medical expenses were more than what she was given from the arbitration award, and thus she felt entitled to the remaining amount that her insurance company was claiming it was entitled to get back. Additionally, the opinion states that the judgment for the amount was later overturned, meaning that the defendant was not entitled to the amount pursuant to the collection claim, for whatever reason.

If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to understand your rights so that you can ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. The lawyers at Sharifi Firm, APC have significant experience in handling car accident cases throughout California.  If you have been involved in a car accident, contact us today for a free consultation. We can be reached through this website, or by calling (866) 422-7222.

More Blog Posts:

California Court of Appeals Rules on Trucking Accident Workers’ Compensation Case, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, published May 4, 2015

California Court of Appeals Rules in Unsafe Intersection Case, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, published April 30, 2015

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