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DEFENSE LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
Letter From The President
Happy Spring! I hope that you all fared better in various bracket challenges than I did. I would like to invite you to our upcoming CLE programs. On May 25th, NMDLA will present Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for Lawyers. This exciting and enlightening program will provide stressed-out attorneys with information and skills for a mindfulness-based meditation program. Research indicates a correlation between mindfulness-based stress reduction and a decrease in attorney misconduct issues, something we should all be “mindful” of. In June, NMDLA will present its Basic Skills Academy, designed for attorneys with 1-3 years of experience. As a reminder, we limit the number of participants to facilitate an immersive experience. Further details and pertinent info will be in your inbox soon!
I would like to share the recent successes of our Amicus program, which is managed by Board of Directors member Mark D. Standridge. In December, the New Mexico Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Fred Loya Insurance Company v. Thomas J. Swiech, 2018-NMCA-022. In that case, a criminal suspect struck Swiech’s vehicle, causing approximately $3,500 in property damage. Swiech’s insurance policy contained limits of $10,000.00 per accident for property damage, with the same UM/UIM limits for property damage. Although his insurer paid the policy limits for the property damage incurred, Swiech demanded that additional amounts for punitive damages be paid from the higher UM/UIM limits applicable to bodily injury. The district court held that the insurer was required to pay punitive damages in excess of the property damage policy limits. NMDLA filed an amicus brief in support of the insurer’s argument that punitive damages associated with property damage could not be recovered from UM/UIM limits for bodily injury and could not exceed the policy limits. The Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s rulings in their entirety, holding that UM/UIM coverage limits for bodily injury and property damage were not “interchangeable.” The Court also thanked NMDLA for its participation and arguments.
In January, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued its opinion in Beaudry v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, et al., 2018- NMSC-012. As Courtenay discussed in a prior letter, Beaudry’s breach of contract claim was dismissed by the Court before trial, and the only related claim submitted to the jury was a claim for prima facie tort asserting that the defendants “intended to injure” Beaudry by terminating the contact. The jury awarded significant damages in favor of Beaudry, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court allowed NMDLA to file an amicus brief in support of reversal, arguing that allowing dismissed breach of contract to essentially proceed disguised as claims for prima facie tort would create enormous negative consequences for basic contract principles. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Beaudry could not pursue a prima facie tort claim where the legally enforceable contract between the parties allowed the termination of the agreement. As the Supreme Court noted, “[c]ontracts allow parties to come to legally enforceable agreements about the way that they will interact with one another.” Id. at 24. A special thanks to Mark Standridge for his excellent work on these important issues.
We will be resuming our Brownbag Roundtable this month, with a discussion by Richard Padilla and Alicia Santos on May 30th. Please join us for these informative and interesting sessions.
Cody R. Rogers, Esq.
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Women in the Courtroom VII
Join us at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque for this year’s full-day CLE seminar. Online registration available in July.
Congratulations to our 2017 NMDLA Lawyer of the Year Award Winners
The New Mexico Defense Lawyers Association has been selected by DRI, the Voice of the Defense Bar, to receive the 2016 SLDO Diversity Award. The award was presented at the DRI Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon, October 20th in Boston.
Defense News is NMDLA's quarterly newsletter containing important articles on the latest developments in the law that is circulated to all members of the New Mexico Defense Lawyers Association as well as all New Mexico judges, libraries and major newspapers.