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Betts v. Allstate Insurance Co.

154 Cal. App. 3d 688 (1984)

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Betts v. Allstate Insurance Co.

California Court of Appeal

154 Cal. App. 3d 688 (1984)

Facts

The car being driven by 17-year-old Debra Betts (plaintiff) collided with a car driven by Anne Gallucci. Gallucci suffered severe brain injuries. Betts had a $100,000 automobile-insurance liability policy with Allstate Insurance Co. (Allstate) (defendant). Allstate arranged for the law firm Ruston and Nance (Ruston) (defendant) to represent Betts in connection with Gallucci’s claim against Betts. Allstate rejected multiple offers made by Gallucci’s lawyer to settle the claim for the policy limits. A jury returned a verdict against Betts for $350,000 more than the policy limits. Betts was not advised of her right to consult independent counsel either after the settlement demands or after the excess verdict. Nor was Betts advised to file an action against Allstate for the excess verdict or assign her claim to Gallucci. Instead, Betts was encouraged to file for bankruptcy. Betts sued Ruston for negligence and infliction of emotional distress. The jury found that Ruston’s negligence proximately caused Betts’s emotional distress. Ruston appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Staniforth, J.)

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