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August 2023

Gordon & Rees Trial Team Obtains Total Defense Verdict in Utah Class Action Lawsuit Seeking $26 Million from Insurance Company

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani took over an insurance coverage class action lawsuit only three days before trial was set to begin in Salt Lake City, Utah wherein they received a complete defense verdict.  This class action had been pending for over ten years prior to Gordon & Rees’ takeover. The trial team included Phoenix/Chicago Partner Melissa Gardner, Salt Lake City Of Counsel Zachary Bloomer, and Salt Lake City associate Jacob Holden. Since the team had only three days to prepare for the trial and learn ten years' worth of litigation, it was all hands on deck. Salt Lake City Managing Partner Mark Nickel and Salt Lake City Senior Counsel David Garner were invaluable to the trial team.

On the first day of trial, the Court dismissed one of the plaintiffs’ class representatives, agreeing with the trial team that his claims were barred due to claim preclusion. At the close of the plaintiffs’ case, the plaintiffs’ agreed to dismiss with prejudice a claim seeking damages under Utah's Fraudulent Insurance Act after Mr. Bloomer’s creative motion was filed with the court on the first day of trial. That dismissal left one negligence claim for failure to notify remaining. The Gordon & Rees team argued that the trial court's ruling imposing a duty to notify insureds of the new change in law went beyond the Utah Supreme Court's ruling at issue.  The Court disagreed and allowed the plaintiffs to seek punitive damages from the jury on its remaining cause of action.  If the jury found punitive damages appropriate, the plaintiffs' counsel intended to seek $26 million in addition to the $2 million in damages they initially sought. 

After less than an hour of deliberation, the jury returned a complete and total defense verdict. 

Zachary A. Bloomer
Melissa Gardner
David R. Garner
Mark A. Nickel


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