Good intentions, the road to hell, and the pro se plaintiff in insurance claim litigation

In its Requests for Production to Plaintiff, Lexington requested specific information regarding designated experts. Plaintiff responded as follows:

I have not yet retained any experts. When I get one I will let you know. I
consider myself somewhat as an expert on Hurricanes. I have experienced first hand all of the ones that have hit the area since 1947. My mother told me about the ones she experienced….

Let’s start this update on  77-year-old Lexington (AIG) policyholder acting pro-se files hand-written complaint with federal court with my good intention of posting and complimenting Judge Ozerden’s Amended Order for Mediation:

Pages from pro se plaintiff amended mediation

Reading between the lines suggests the pro se plaintiff may have taken Judge Ozerden’s initial Order of Mediation as an offer and declined.  In fact, reading between all the lines I read tonight also suggests the pro se plaintiff likely filed the Complaint thinking of litigation as a two-step process –  write the judge and tell the jury.   With those thoughts in mind, we examine the road to hell in the pro se litigation of an insurance claim dispute.

Now, I’m not suggesting the pro se plaintiff travels that road alone.  Judge Ozerden’s Amended Order indicates he took a little hike.  Judging from the docket, Lexingston’s counsel would likely say, “us, too” as shortly after reading their answer to her Complaint, she filed a demand for jury trial.

pro se jury demand

According to their resumes, the Alford Clausen attorneys for defendant Lexington,  L. Hunter Compton, Jr., and James W. Lampkin, II, are experienced counsel; however,  the likelihood of either  – or anyone else, for that matter – having a comparable experience has to be slim-to-none.  After all, there probably are not all that many 77-year-old pro-se plaintiffs in insurances litigation, much less one who graduated from college when she was 59; considered a 25- foot, uninsured sailboat among her losses; and remarried after filing her Complaint last August.

the Lexington claim file for this matter has over 700 pages with hundreds of photographs.

In many ways, filing pro se is an act of faith; yet, it is also an uphill battle that becomes a mountain in an insurance claim dispute centered on anti-concurrent causation.  The challenges a pro se plaintiff faces as the case moves forward also pose challenges for opposing counsel and the Court.

In this case, both have risen to the occasion – opposing counsel by their restraint and the Court by its courtesy.  I honor that by saving an examination of Lexington’s position for today’s SLABBED Daily and closing this post with a reminder that litigation can be an intimidating experience for any plaintiff, even when represented by competent counsel.  Consequently, I believe every plaintiff ordered to participate in mediation would benefit from having a copy of Judge Ozerden’s Amended Order as well as having his common language step-by-step description of the process read aloud at the beginning of a mediation session.

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