Binding UIM Commercial Arbitration Award Results in $900,000 Judgment

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John E. Keefe, Jr. of Keefe Law Firm announced that following binding arbitration, in a case arising from a pedestrian being struck by a motor vehicle, judgment was entered in the amount of $900,000 for his client, Jose Nogueira. Coming after a two year tooth-and-nail battle to obtain the full amount of underinsured motorist coverage under Mr. Nogueira’s employer’s commercial policy from Farm Family Casualty Insurance Company, the case exemplified for Mr. Keefe an insurance company’s recalcitrance in dealing with a beneficiary of its own insured.
Mr. Nogueira, then 57, was working as a laborer for VIP Contractors. Charged with watering the planting beds in a highway median in Cherry Hill, Mr. Nogueira positioned his large work truck on the side of the highway next to the left lane of Route 70 West, Cherry Hill, New Jersey. At approximately 2:00 PM, as Mr. Nogueira was winding up a hose and moving on to the next bed, a black Honda Civic driven by Michael Wallenburg smashed into the unsuspecting Mr. Nogueira, who was positioned between the curb and the yellow fog line, and sent him careening through the air. Landing violently on the hood of the Honda, Mr. Nogueira shattered the windshield, finally falling, critically injured, into the median next to the car.
Excruciatingly painful, Mr. Nogueira’s devastating orthopedic injuries have limited his quality of life. Prior to the accident, Mr. Nogueira regularly rode his bike, jogged, played basketball, volleyball and was an avid soccer player. He traveled to Portugal annually. Now Mr. Nogueira can do none of these things. His traumatic injuries include: laceration of the face and neck, deformity of the left shoulder and right lower extremity, left leg deformity, bilateral shoulder dislocations, right shoulder glenoid fracture, and left ankle/left rib/right tibia fractures. He has had more than ten surgeries already, and additional surgeries remain to be endured. Suffering daily with severe pain in his arms and legs, Mr. Nogueira now must ambulate with a cane. His typical day involves getting up, going out to the street for his newspaper and mail, and then right back into his house to watch television. Mr. Nogueira is understandably devastated emotionally.
In concluding this sad case, Mr. Keefe observed: “While many of our clients feel themselves quite fortunate to have survived a grisly accident like the one that has devastated Mr. Nogueira, their injuries severely diminish their quality of life. Farm Casualty tried to minimize the severity of Mr. Nogueira’s obviously massive injuries, and initially refused to take any responsibility for the victim, their own insured, under the coverage afforded him by his employer. Mr. Noguiera never wavered in his pursuit of fundamental fairness and we were privileged to fight for him. Mr. Nogueira sustained serious permanent injuries. He will have to endure many more surgeries, with all their attendant dangers. Mr. Nogueira must deal daily with pain and suffering that will not end. I am grateful we were able to help him win at least this part of his battle.”
The initial case against the tort feasor settled after arbitrating Longworth approval from the UIM carrier but was litigated for over 27 months before finally resolving at binding commercial UIM arbitration before a three-member panel.
Keefe Law Firm’s headquarters is located at 170 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701 with additional offices at 57 Paterson Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 and 56 Ferry Street, Newark, NJ 07105.