Garcia v. ITT Hartford Ins. Co
In Garcia v. ITT Hartford Ins. Co., 72 Conn. App. 588, 805 A.2d 779 (2002), the Court addressed a similar apportionment issue. The plaintiff passenger in Garcia also claimed that she had sustained damages in an accident that involved three cars that was caused by the negligence of two of the operators. Garcia v. ITT Hartford Ins. Co., supra, 72 Conn. App. 589-90.
The incident occurred when the unidentified operator of the automobile traveling ahead of the plaintiff's car made a sharp left turn. Id., 589. A vehicle driven by an identified operator that was traveling in the opposite direction swerved into the plaintiff's lane, colliding with the vehicle in which she was riding. Id. The plaintiff settled a claim against the identified operator who had swerved into her lane. Id., 590.
The plaintiff, under the terms of the uninsured motorists policy covering the driver of the vehicle in which the plaintiff had been riding, thereafter brought an action against the driver's insurer as a surrogate for the unidentified operator of the automobile that had been traveling ahead of the vehicle in which the plaintiff had been riding. Id.
The insurer filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming, inter alia, that the action failed as a matter of law because the plaintiff's $ 100,000 settlement with the identified operator of the vehicle that collided with her vehicle set off the $ 50,000 uninsured motorists policy that was held by the driver of the plaintiff's vehicle. Id. The trial court agreed, ruling that the settlement effectively reduced to zero the driver's coverage with the insured. Id., 591.
On appeal, the Court concluded that the trial court improperly rendered judgment as a matter of law because the issue required a fact finder's determination of damages, and the respective negligence of the identified and unidentified operators. Id., 598-99. The court stated that "any payment by the defendant insurer would be predicated on a finding of culpability and should be reduced proportionately by the percentage of unidentified driver's fault." Id., 599.