Denver Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani attorneys John Palmeri, John “Jack” Mann, and Margaret Boehmer obtained summary judgment for an attorney in a case brought by the attorney’s adversary in underlying litigation arising from a serious automobile accident.
The plaintiff was injured in the underlying automobile accident and received a jury verdict in excess of $2 million. The adverse driver’s insurance company paid the insurance policy limits of $100,000 in partial satisfaction of the judgment. The remainder of the judgment was uncollectible and plaintiff sued the adverse driver’s attorney. The plaintiff alleged the attorney tortiously interfered with settlement of the underlying lawsuit. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant attorney tortiously prevented formation of an agreement in which a defendant assigns his bad faith claims against his liability insurer to the personal injury plaintiff in exchange for a covenant not to execute on a judgment in excess of policy limits.
The court granted summary judgment for the attorney holding that, because the attorney’s primary duty was to his client, he could not be liable to a non-client adversary in litigation for allegedly interfering with a contract between his client and the plaintiff. The court further found that the alleged interference was not improper and was protected by the absolute privilege that immunizes attorneys for conduct during litigation.