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After appeals court tosses $3.5 million verdict, auto crash victim sues insurer for $4 million for 'bad faith' suit against him

By Dana Herra | Oct 9, 2015

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While a Cook County man awaits a new trial in a lawsuit he filed after being injured in an auto accident, he has filed a new suit against the insurance company defending the other driver – saying the company sued him without cause and now owes him $4 million.

In September, a three-justice panel of the Illinois First District Appellate Court threw out a consolidated $3.5 million verdict awarded in Cook County Circuit Court Case Nos. 2012-L-1732 and 2010-M6-2163 to plaintiff Nazmi Nomat, who had sued Richard Mota, Kennicott Brothers Company, and Florists’ Mutual Insurance Co. The unpublished appellate court order was issued under Supreme Court Rule 23 and generally cannot be cited as precedent.

The initial suit stemmed from an October 2009 incident in which Nomat’s car was struck while going through an intersection in Hazel Crest by a van, owned by wholesale florist Kennicott Brothers and driven by Mota, who was making a left turn. According to the suit, Nomat suffered injuries to his back, shoulder and ankle requiring treatments which racked up more than $900,000 in purported medical expenses. He also sued for lost wages, claiming the disability he suffered as a result of the crash cost him more than $1 million in income.

A jury awarded Nomat, who was represented by attorney Steven C. Armbruster, of the Vrdolyak Law Group, of Chicago, more than $1.1 million in medical expenses, $750,000 for pain and suffering, $750,000 for loss of a normal life, and more than $945,000 for lost income.

During the course of that trial, Kennicott Brothers’ insurer, Florists’ Mutual Insurance Co., filed a countersuit against Nomat, saying his claim of lost wages amounted to a fraudulent insurance claim. According to court documents, Nomat was not working at the time of the crash – in fact, he had been unemployed for a year and a half.

Before that time, he was making less than $30,000 per year as the owner and operator of a cell phone store. Three months before the crash, he had been offered a job making $1,000 a week as a butcher, and it was that sum of $52,000 a year that his attorney used as a basis for establishing the $1 million in lost wages. But the defendants in his suit and the insurance company pointed out that after three months, he still had not accepted that job and had given no indication he planned to accept it.

The trial court granted Nomat summary judgment in Florists’ countersuit, ruling that the insurance company had no standing for the countersuit. Nomat’s claim could not be construed as a false insurance claim, the court ruled, because he is not a Florists’ policyholder and was not making a claim against an insurance policy.

The appellate court upheld that summary judgment, and on Oct. 3, Armbruster filed a new suit on Nomat’s behalf against the insurance company for bringing suit “in bad faith.” He seeks twice the amount the insurer was seeking against him – a total of $4 million – plus attorney fees and costs.

However, on Sept. 9, the appellate court threw out all of the damages Nomat had been awarded in his previous suit and remanded the case for a new trial. The appellate justices ruled an expert witness who testified to Nomat’s lost wages could not testify again, “as his opinion was entirely baseless and speculative.” The justices also said the trial court abused its discretion when it quashed defendant subpoenas filed within 60 days of the trial date, while allowing additional disclosures by the plaintiff within the same time frame.

Additionally, the justices said the trial court had erred when it barred the entire testimony of the defense’s expert witness on the reasonableness of medical bills, when only a portion of her testimony should have been inadmissable.

The appellate ruling was delivered by Justice Aurelia Pucinski, with justices Michael B. Hyman and Mary Anne Mason concurring.

Mota, Kennicott Brothers and Florists Insurance were all represented by Wolf Law, of Chicago.

Nomat’s Oct. 3, 2015, lawsuit against Florists Insurance is Case No. 2015-L-010118.

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Organizations in this Story

The Vrdolyak Law Group LLCWolf Law Ltd.