5045 Park Avenue, Suite 2B
Seville, Ohio 44273
330-769-0911

Firm News

News about our firm and from around the Subrogation World

RMI SETTLES $550,000.00 GAS EXPLOSION CASE: Second large loss gas explosion settlement in back to back months

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RMI in back to back months has recovered by way of settlement two significant six digit gas explosion cases.

This past month the firm settled a natural gas explosion that destroyed an insured’s commercial building in Columbus, Ohio. The previous month RMI resolved a residential explosion that completely destroyed a home. On both losses, the firm was retained within twenty-four hours after the explosions.

The $550,000.00 commercial building settlement was very close to the calculated actual cash value of the loss.

Despite being on site immediately, there was “catch up” involved as the gas company had already commenced return to service repairs.

The loss involved a main gas line servicing several city blocks. Luckily, an evacuation of the insured’s building occurred minutes prior to the blast that rocked the downtown area. The blast destroyed the insured’s building and displaced multiple commercial tenants.

“This type of explosion involved issues including the national fuel gas code, excavation/boring, contracts, Ohio Utility Protection Service, and related state regulations and laws,” noted RMI partner David Matejczyk. The experts retained on our client’s behalf did an excellent job working with our office.

The firm spent multiple days on site ensuring proper scene and evidence preservation, initial investigation and documentation with experts immediately retained. The loss involved three separate joint scene examinations. All told, RMI coordinated exams involving 34 parties and representatives of involved or impacted entities and governmental officials.

The firm had a tight deadline to work with given safety, condemnation and demolition orders issued by the local government.

The case was handled by RMI partners David Matejczyk and Glenna Roberts.

The month prior RMI obtained a significant six digit recovery on a residential gas explosion. That case involved servicing issues with respect to NFPA 54.

The residential explosion was litigated by RMI attorneys David Matejczyk and Dustin Smith.

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NEW OHIO LAW IMPACTS DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS: Governor Signs “Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative”

 

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August, 2018

Every auto subrogation professional handling Ohio claims should be aware of a new law aimed at making it easier for suspended drivers to get back on the road.

Governor John Kasich on August 3, 2018 signed into law House Bill 336, known as the “Reinstatement Fee Amnesty Initiative.” The new law will require the Ohio Registrar of Motor Vehicles to establish a 6 month driver’s license reinstatement fee reduction and amnesty program.

For those subrogation professionals who use license suspensions as a method of recovery, this is a law that needs their attention. Under this new statute, individuals with suspended licenses who have committed an “eligible offense” can apply to the Ohio BMV to either have their reinstatement fees reduced or have the fees waived completely if they meet various criteria.

Most eligible offenses are moving violations, but certain eligible offenses that have an impact on subrogation recoveries include: R.C. 4509.101 (Operating vehicle without proof of insurance), R.C. 4509.24 (Default on a payment that was required by written agreement after a motor vehicle accident) and R.C. 4509.40 (Nonpayment of Judgment). It is important to note that an eligible offense does not include an offense that involves alcohol, drug abuse, or a deadly weapon.

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Additionally, under this new law, there are certain criteria an individual must meet before having their reinstatement fees reduced.  A suspended driver must have completed all court-ordered sanctions related to the eligible offense other than the payment of reinstatement fees. Additionally, at least eighteen months must have expired since the end of the period of suspension ordered by the Court. For an individual to apply to have their reinstatement fees waived, the person must prove they are indigent by showing they are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”).

The new law impacts the state reinstatement fees but does not address the requirement of a payment arrangement with the insurer. What the new law does is make it easier for individuals with license suspensions to overcome the reinstatement fee hurdle to get their licenses back. It is hoped that additional subrogation recovery opportunities may result as suspended drivers will be more willing to set up a payment arrangement if they know they can bypass the reinstatement fees.

The new law had bipartisan support in the Ohio legislature. The Registrar of Motor Vehicles has 90 days to implement this new program and run it for 6 months, however, lawmakers hope to introduce legislation next year that will make the program permanent.

If you have questions regarding the new law, contact RMI Attorney Amanda Martanovic at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.m@ohiosubro.com

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Attorney Amanda Martanovic, CSRP, heads the automobile subrogation division at RMI.   

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“BURN IT TO LEARN IT” LIVE BURN SEMINAR A SUCCESS - 150 Attendees at Ohio Event

 

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RMI was pleased to participate and co-sponsor “Burn it – to Learn it” - a day long information packed fire investigation and insurance subrogation/adjuster seminar.

The event featured a morning classroom program addressing legal and insurance issues.  The program was held at the Norwich Township and Fire Department state-of-the-art training facility. A live burn was held in the afternoon at the adjacent Franklin County Fairgrounds. The program was attended by approximatey150 representatives of the insurance industry (adjusters, subrogation units and in-house counsel), agents, property managers and local fire officials.

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The classroom portion featured insurance issues including proper and compliant notice, roles and duties of the front line adjuster & subrogation unit, scene preservation, avoidance of bad faith claims, impacted third parties, losses involving injuries and proper damage documentation.

RMI partner David Matejczyk was a presenter on the insurance and legal issues from a fire loss.

Tom Bensen, CFI, CFEI, CVFI of Bensen Fire & Safety Consulting provided an analysis of identification of fire origin, spread and responsibility. Representatives of Thompson Building Associates – ResQ24 discussed proper securing of loss sites to prevent spoliation and liability issues. The morning program featured a discussion among industry personnel in attendance on the proper and safe mechanics of a fire investigation – from loss notice until release of the scene for restoration.

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After a barbecue lunch the program moved to the adjacent Franklin County Fairgrounds, where sponsors Thompson Building with materials from Holmes Lumber and Lifestyle Floring had prepared two pods for a live burn.

The live burn was coordinated by Bensen Fire & Safety with the assistance of the Norwich Township Fire Department.

Following extinguishment of the fires by the Norwich Fire Department, the burn patterns and other issues involved in a fire loss origin and cause determination were explored.

RMI would like to thank all involved for their participation in this successful event, and especially Michelle Hoffman of Thompson Building Associates.

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Program Sponsors....

Sponsors

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SUBROGATED HEALTH INSURER OR PLAN NAMED AS A DEFENDANT IN OHIO - "I received a court document! What should I do?"

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Failure to Properly Respond Per Ohio Civil Rules May be Fatal to Your Subrogation Claim

In Ohio, court documents may arrive in several different forms. The court document or pleading most likely to be seen first would be a “Summons and Complaint” naming a plan or TPA (usually improperly named) as a defendant, which is very common in Ohio. In fact, some courts require the subrogated interest(s) such as a health plan or workers comp lien to be added as a party where not originally named. The document you receive may be an initial complaint alleging injury or an amended complaint by which the lien interest is being added to the already ongoing litigation. 

Under Ohio law, a defendant has only 28 days from the date the summons and complaint or amended complaint are first received in which to answer. The 28 days begins running as soon as the party or its agent (i.e., statutory agent, TPA, any office address, etc.) receives the suit papers. We all know this time can pass all too quickly during the press of ordinary business, while the court document is first associated with a particular member (or subscriber’s relative) and eventually makes its way to the appropriate handler for the first time.

A timely phone call to Ohio outside counsel, even with limited information, can help stave off the potentially bad consequences of a late response. It should be emphasized here that it is not sufficient at this point under either the Ohio civil rules or practical experience for the file handler to simply call or write the plaintiff’s attorney – the simple fact is that you need to get right with the court through counsel at the peril of your subrogated interest.

More urgent would be receipt of a “Motion for Default Judgment” against the lien interest. Worse still would be receipt of a notice of default hearing or a default judgment entry dismissing the subrogated lien interest. Again, in the spirit of “better late than never,” a timely phone call to Ohio counsel may ameliorate a problematic situation.

Even aside from these more typical “invitations” to join pending state court litigation, the plan or TPA may (and in fact should under the Ohio rules) receive court notices of hearings, depositions, etc. If you receive a notice or pleading from any court or party in pending litigation, and you do not currently have counsel assigned, receipt of such notice or pleading should prompt a handler to investigate: 1) whether a file has already been referred; and/or 2) whether the file now should be referred out to counsel (hint: if the first answer is “no” the second should be “yes”). Additionally, even where the subrogated interest is not named as a party, the plan or TPA may later become involved through receipt of a records subpoena or just a letter from the member’s counsel. If the matter is in litigation, this would be the appropriate juncture at which the interest should intervene in the suit.

One perhaps unique feature of Ohio law is the fact that the subrogated lien interest, even if not a named party, may ultimately become involved in trial via a third-party subpoena. Under the state’s Robinson v. Bates line of decisions, a defendant can introduce evidence of insurance/plan payments and/or provider write offs, etc., to counter the presentation of “face value” billings submitted by the injured plaintiff. This is true even if the subrogated interest has been “waived” or some out-of-court “understanding” has been reached with the plaintiff’s attorney. So, involvement of Ohio counsel on the ground is best done sooner rather than later when you learn of pending litigation affecting your subrogated interest.

Roberts, Matejczyk & Ita Co., L.P.A. has handled Ohio-based health care and health insurer subrogation litigation involving health plans, FEHBA (federal employee), Medicare Advantage and Self-insured ERISA, and other health plans for over a quarter century.

For Ohio litigation representation on subrogated health insurance matters, or questions of any sort, feel free to call Tim Ita or Glenna Roberts at Roberts, Matejczyk & Ita Co., L.P.A. at (330) 769-0911 (Email: Tim: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Glenna: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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BURN IT - TO LEARN IT! - Insurance Adjuster/Subrogation LIVE BURN Seminar - June 22, 2018 in Hilliard, Ohio

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RMI is pleased to have been asked to participate in an information packed fire investigation and insurance adjuster/subrogation live burn seminar being held Friday, June 22, 2018, 9:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Norwich Township Fire Department, 5181 Northwest Parkway in Hilliard, Ohio.

Your company’s adjusters, managers, subrogation units and in-house counsel are invited to attend.

Lunch is provided. Please RSVP to Michelle Hoffman (Ph. 614-863-9650) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Program Description 

From the first notice of a fire loss to the conclusion of the scene investigation, this program addresses insurance adjustment & subrogation issues, legal considerations, cause and origin investigation of a fire loss and much much more. A topic loaded classroom program in the morning will move to a live fire burn of two pods - applying the insurance, legal and investigation issues to a live fire.

Topics Covered

-Roles and duties of the adjuster, subrogation unit and counsel. 

-The fine line between mitigation of damages and spoliation.

-Avoiding bad faith claims and potential sanctions from the fire loss.

-Legal issues involving the insured, injuries from the fire, renters and impacted third parties.

-Control and eventual release of the scene.

-Safety issues as to adjusters, investigators and all involved.

-Proper Damage Documentation (adjuster tips for avoiding later deposition challenges).

-Identifying all potential subrogation targets (known and unknown).

-Product liability subrogation fire trends.

-Proper and NFPA compliant notice to parties and others impacted by the loss / protocols.

-Initial and joint scene examinations of the scene (do’s and dont’s).

-NFPA 921 / Identifying origin, cause, fire spread and responsibility for the fire.

 After we learn…..it is time to burn!

-Live burn of Pod 1

-Live burn of Pod 2

      .Your company’s adjusters, managers and subrogation units are invited to attend. Lunch is provided. Please RSVP to Michelle Hoffman (Ph. 614-863-9650) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Burn it to Learn it Live Burn June 22 Seminar

 

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