On July 26, 2009, Ryan Caruso rear-ended a car in the northbound middle lane of Roosevelt Boulevard about 2 a.m.
His car was disabled in the crash, so, as he sat in the driver's seat, his passenger Patrick Hennessy got out and, with the driver of the other car, attempted to push Caruso's vehicle to the side of the road.
It was Hennessy's bad luck that a third car crashed into him, pinning him against the car he was trying to move off the highway. He suffered grievous injuries and, after weeks of treatment, his right leg was amputated just above the knee.
As an insurance claim, the matter was straightforward, said Hennessy's lawyer, Matt Casey. The driver of the car that hit Hennessy was uninsured, but Caruso clearly bore liability, since his rear-end collision had set in motion the events that led to Hennessy's injury. And his insurance company, Allstate, could be reasonably expected to pay on the $250,000 coverage for such incidents that Caruso had - or so Casey reasoned.
But after refusing even to confirm Caruso's coverage amount, Allstate twice refused to pay the claim.
Bad move on Allstate's part.
On May 23, 2013, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury issued a $19,145,000 verdict. The award technically was against Caruso, but the ultimate target was Allstate.
A short time after the verdict, Caruso assigned his right to seek redress from Allstate to Hennessy and his lawyers, and they filed a "bad faith" complaint against Allstate, alleging that the firm had engaged in impermissible delay tactics.
This week, the insurance company settled that claim for $22 million, 88 times the amount of the original claim. According to VerdictSearch, a national database that tracks verdicts and settlements, it is the largest settlement in a bad-faith case in Pennsylvania history.
"A young man with catastrophic injuries took on the largest insurer in America and won," said Casey, of the Center City-based plaintiffs firm Ross Feller Casey L.L.P.
As the original case proceeded toward trial, last May Allstate's lawyer offered to settle for the original policy limit of $250,000 after years of litigation.
But Casey, who was prepared to settle for that amount early on, rejected the offer in a May 16, 2013, letter bristling with indignation.
"I have your letter," Casey wrote the Allstate lawyer. "Your offer is rejected. As the correspondence in this case will confirm, and as Allstate's internal files and depositions following the Hennessy verdict will further illustrate, Allstate frivolously and unreasonably . . . placed its interests above Caruso's."
Casey counter-offered, saying he would settle for $5 million shortly before trial, but he also held out the possibility that if Allstate rejected that offer, his settlement terms would jump to $10 million.
A few days later, Casey and his client won their big verdict, and the matter was settled Monday.
Hennessy, who was 24 at the time of the crash, has married and has a young daughter.