This action arose from a motor vehicle accident. At the pre-trial conference, Justice Trimble awarded costs in the amount of $1,000 against the defendant. The conference was attended by the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s counsel, the defendant’s counsel, and a representative of the defendant’s automobile insurer who defended the action on behalf of the defendant. The defendant maintained a “no liability” position. In response to questioning by Justice Trumble, the insurer representative admitted that she did not have authority to settle the case up to the policy limit if the facts supported it; that she reported to a committee for settlement authority; and that she had not made arrangements for a decision-maker within her company to be available by phone in the event she needed to seek authority. Justice Trimble found that the representative was not a decision-maker with authority to settle, and there was not an effective decision-maker available by phone to make decisions about settlement. Justice Trimble also was not satisfied that anybody could make a decision on settlement without reporting to an oversight committee. He concluded that the defendant had not complied with Rule 50.05(2) in the circumstances of the pre-trial conference.
The Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident. He produced several medical reports which indicated that he sustained head and neck injuries as a result of the accident. At the pre-trial, despite not yet conducting a medical examination of the Plaintiff, the Defendants took the position that there was “zero chance” of financial liability because the medical report that they would obtain would demonstrate no injuries attributable to the accident. Justice Koehnen found it disturbing that the Defendants had such certainty about the outcome of an independent medical examination that had not yet been commissioned. Justice Koehnen also criticized the Defendants for rendering the pre-trial “a waste of time” by relying on a medical report that had not yet been prepared, but insisting that there was no possibility of liability. As such, costs of the pre-trial were awarded against the Defendants.