2009 Mass.App.Div. 151 (2009), 08-ADMS-70019, Lee v. Premier Ins. Co.

Docket Nº:08-ADMS-70019.
Citation:2009 Mass.App.Div. 151
Opinion Judge:GARDNER, J.
Party Name:Charles G. LEE, v. PREMIER INSURANCE COMPANY.
Attorney:Joseph A. Franco, Esq., West Springfield, MA, for plaintiff. John P. Connor, Esq., Smith & Bnnk, P.C., Springfield, MA, for defendant.
Judge Panel:Present: LoConto, P.J., Brennan & Gardner, JJ.
Case Date:July 30, 2009
Court:Massachusetts Appellate Division
 
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2009 Mass.App.Div. 151 (2009)

Charles G. LEE,

v.

PREMIER INSURANCE COMPANY.

No. 08-ADMS-70019.

Massachusetts Appellate Division, District Court Department, Western District.

July 30, 2009

Heard Jan. 23, 2009.

In the Springfield Division, Docket No. 0423-CV-2893, Payne, J.

Joseph A. Franco, Esq., West Springfield, MA, for plaintiff.

John P. Connor, Esq., Smith & Bnnk, P.C., Springfield, MA, for defendant.

Present: LoConto, P.J., Brennan & Gardner, JJ.

OPINION

GARDNER, J.

The plaintiff, Charles G. Lee, II (" Lee" ), allegedly sustained injuries from a rear-end collision while operating a motor vehicle owned by his mother, Claudia Lee (" Claudia" ), and insured by the defendant, Premier Insurance Company (" Premier" ). After denying Lee's claim for Personal Injury Protection (" PIP" ) benefits because of noncooperation, Lee sued Premier for breach of contract and violation of G.L. c. 93A and G.L. c. 176D. A jury awarded Lee $4,800.00 in medical expenses and $1,000.00 in lost wages. Having reserved the G.L. c. 93A issue, the trial judge found that Premier had reasonably denied Lee's " to say the least fuzzy" claim for lost wages, but acted in bad faith in denying his claim for medical expenses, and accordingly awarded Lee double damages of $9,600.00 and attorney's fees. Premier appeals only the trial judge's medical-expenses award of double damages and attorney's fees, arguing that, under Gechijian v. Richmond Ins. Co., 298 Mass. 487 (1937), the proper remedy for Lee's exaggerated request for lost wages was not merely the denial of that exaggerated portion, but the denial of his entire insurance claim. We agree with Premier.1

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In Gechijian v. Richmond Ins. Co., the Supreme Judicial Court sought to interpret the term " defraud" in a number of fire insurance policies, all of which contained the following provision: " This policy shall be VOID ... if the insured shall make any attempt to defraud the Company either before or after the loss." Id. at 488. In Gechijian, the trial judge found that the insured had provided the insurers with a schedule in which he " knowingly exaggerated the sound value of the property in order to be in a more advantageous position to be paid for the real loss suffered, but not with the intent to defraud the insurers." Id. In holding that such conduct was an attempt to defraud within...

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