A Baltimore jury handed down a $760,000 verdict to the family of Kaitlynn E. Fisher, 24, an engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground who was killed in a two-car accident in Baltimore on June 19, 2010.
The Fishers had filed the lawsuit on March 29, 2011, seeking $1.1 million from the driver of the other vehicle in the accident, Ronald K. Hope III. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. was added later as party at its own request, and was represented by its in-house counsel, James R. Moffat.
That last detail — Progressive’s role — propelled this case into the public eye beyond the state boundaries this week.
Matt Fisher, a New York-based stand-up comic and Kaitlynn’s brother, took to social media to blast his sister’s insurance company for assisting the defense. His post on his personal Tumblr account, titled “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court,” went viral and showed up on heavily trafficked sites like the UK Daily Mail and Gawker. Progressive’s Twitter feed was clogged by outraged posts that were not helped by the fact that Progressive’s answer featured the smiling mug of company spokeswoman “Flo,” saying, “This is a tragic case, and our sympathies go out to Mr. Fisher and his family for the pain.”
By Wednesday, Progressive had dropped Flo and was going with the standard company logo instead. But, not before being called out by AdWeek for bad form.
UPDATE: After this post was written, Progressive released another statement saying it had settled with the Fishers. The amount was not disclosed.
Progressive was involved because Fisher’s policy included underinsured motorist coverage, meaning it would be liable if the damages exceeded the policy limits of the other driver, Hope.
And, the case was not straightforward when it came to the issue of liability.