Bush v. Elkins

An adult passenger in a car was injured in a single-car accident. The passenger and his family brought suit against the vehicle’s unlicensed minor driver, the minor’s mother, the owner of the car, the insurance policy holder, the insurer, and the insurance adjuster who handled the claims arising from the accident. The passenger’s father attempted to raise a contractual interference claim, but the superior court concluded that the complaint did not state such a claim on his behalf. The superior court dismissed the father’s only other claim (intentional infliction of emotional distress), removed the father’s name from the case caption, and ordered the father to cease filing pleadings on behalf of other parties. After the superior court judge dismissed him from the action, the passenger’s father attempted to file a first amended complaint, which expressly stated his contractual interference claim on the theory that he was a third-party beneficiary of the contracts between his son and his son’s doctors. But the superior court denied the father leave to amend the complaint because the father had already been dismissed from the case. Following a settlement among all of the other plaintiffs and defendants (which the father did not join) the superior court granted final judgment to the insurer. The insurer moved for attorney’s fees against the father under Alaska Civil Rule 82, but the father never responded to that motion. The superior court granted the award without soliciting a response from the father, and the father appealed. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s order dismissing the father’s claims and denying leave to amend the complaint because the proposed first amended complaint was futile. But because the superior court had barred the father from filing any further pleadings in the case and had removed his name from the caption, the superior court had a responsibility to inform the self-represented father that he was permitted to file an opposition to the motion for attorney’s fees. Therefore, the Court vacated the fee award and remanded the case to the superior court to afford the father an opportunity to respond to the insurer’s motion for reasonable attorney’s fees. View "Bush v. Elkins" on Justia Law