Insurance company screwed out of money

In a nice contrast to what usually happens, the little guy won one recently at the expense of the big insurers.

Oregon law allows certain misdemeanor and low-level felony offenses to be resolved between the parties in what is called a "civil compromise." A successful civil compromise will result in a dismissal of the criminal charges against the client, paving the way to the setting aside of the client's record of arrest.

A civil compromise requires that the "person injured" acknowledge in writing that they have received satisfaction (usually, but not necessarily money) for the injury or property damage. The court then has the discretion to either accept or reject the compromise and dismiss the charges.

The civil compromise procedure is a valuable tool for keeping client's records clean. The process recently came under attack from the Multnomah County District Attorney in a recent Court of Appeals case here.

In the case, the defendant took a tire iron to a truck belonging to his employer. The damage to the truck was repaired at a cost of close to $8,000.00. (Evidently, it was either a very nice truck or a very motivated employee) The employer paid a $1,000.00 deductible and his insurance company paid the rest.

Ultimately the employer agreed to civilly compromise the matter for $2,500.00 paid to his employer. The District Attorney objected to the compromise as the insurance company had received no compensation. The judge granted the civil compromise and dismissed the case over the DA's objection.

After 18 pages of legal analysis, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the civil compromise and dismissal. The court held that the term "person injured" in the civil compromise statute meant just that: the person injured. It did not include the insurance company who paid the injured person's claim prior to the civil compromise.

Now, about that extra $1,500.00 the employer pocketed. We wonder if the insurer will seek reimbursement directly from the insured employer or whether a civil lawsuit is in the works.


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