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Vol. 7, Iss. 2
March 7, 2018

Get Stopped For Driving Without Insurance – Buy A Policy While Sitting In The Car
This is remarkable. Robert Weaver, Jr. was stopped by the Pennsylvania State Police at 5:22 P.M. on November 26, 2016. He was cited for operating a motor vehicle while his operating privilege was suspended and for operating a motor vehicle without the required insurance. No problem. During the course of the stop Weaver used his phone to purchase a Safe Auto policy (I “signed up for it right then and there,” he said.) Seventeen minutes after being stopped Weaver was insured under an automobile policy. Really, I’m not making this up. See Weaver v. Commonwealth, No. 1115 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Feb. 15, 2018).

Weaver was convicted of both citations and did not appeal that. Then the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation suspended his operating privileges for three months for operating a motor vehicle without insurance. That Weaver appealed to the trial court – and won! The DOT appealed to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, which handles appeals in cases involving state agencies. But then the trial court changed its mind. Anyway it’s procedurally confusing. In any event, the Commonwealth Court held that Weaver could not produce clear and convincing evidence that his vehicle was insured at the time that it was driven. Weaver admitted that he did not obtain the required liability insurance until 17 minutes after the traffic stop was initiated. The decision seems pretty obvious. But Weaver gets credit for trying. I can only imagine the Pennsylvania State trooper’s response [no doubt an all-business – no joking around type] if Weaver handed him his phone and said “what do you mean I’m not insured?”

Insured Cannot Sue Defense Counsel -- Even When It Was Staff Counsel -- For Malpractice
In Kapral v. GEICO, No. 17-11511 (11th Cir. Jan. 23, 2018), the federal appeals court held that an insured, under a GEICO automobile policy, could not maintain a malpractice action against the defense counsel retained by GEICO to defend him, even when counsel was the insurer’s “staff counsel.” The court cited two Florida decisions (the relevant state) holding that an insurer cannot be liable for the negligence of counsel that it retains for its insureds. Of note, the fact that the case at hand involved “staff counsel” did not dictate a different result: “Although it appears that the [two decisions] involved outside counsel, not salaried staff counsel, nothing in those decisions indicates that the result would be different in a case involving staff counsel. Nor should the result be different because under Florida law an insurer has no more right to exercise control over staff counsel’s professional conduct and independent judgment than it does over outside counsel's conduct and judgment.” The court added that its decision did not preclude the insured from pursuing a legal malpractice claim against the attorney.


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