GARRICK CALANDRO, as Administrator of the Estate of Genevieve Calandro, Plaintiff, Appellant,
SEDGWICK CLAIMS MANAGEMENT SERVICES, INC., Defendant, Appellee.
FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. Patti B. Saris, U.S. District Judge]
J. Hoey, with whom Daniel T. Landry and Law Offices of David
J. Hoey, P.C. were on brief, for appellant.
N. David, with whom Jane A. Horne, Catherine M. Scott, and
Peabody & Arnold LLP were on brief, for appellee.
Kayatta, Circuit Judge, Souter, [*] Associate Justice, and
Selya, Circuit Judge.
Massachusetts statute, familiarly known as Chapter 176D,
requires firms that are "in the business of
insurance" to handle claims in good faith and to respond
reasonably to the exigencies of the settlement process. Mass.
Gen. Laws ch. 176D, § 3. But every case has twists and
turns, and an insurance carrier is not to be held to a duty
case illustrates the point. In it, plaintiff-appellant
Garrick Calandro, suing in his capacity as administrator of
the estate of Genevieve Calandro (his late mother), won a
multi-million dollar jury verdict for wrongful death and
conscious pain and suffering against a nursing home.
Attempting to add to the spoils of that victory, the
plaintiff then sued a claims-management firm,
defendant-appellee Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc.
(Sedgwick), contending that Sedgwick's actions, both pre-
and post-verdict, violated Chapter 176D. That suit was
tried to the district court which entered a take-nothing
judgment. The plaintiff appeals, arguing that the district
court erred in holding that Sedgwick's actions did not
constitute unfair claims settlement practices.
trials evoke a deferential standard of review. Applying this
respectful standard, we affirm the judgment below.
case at hand involves a tangled web of facts and a
complicated procedural history. For ease in exposition, we
offer only a barebones sketch and refer the reader who
hungers for the full anthology to the district court's
opinions. See Calandro v. Sedgwick
Claims Mgmt. Servs. (Calandro I), 264 F.Supp.3d
321 (D. Mass. 2017); Calandro v.
Sedgwick Claims Mgmt. Servs. (Calandro II),
No. 15-10533, 2017 WL 5593777 (D. Mass. Nov. 21, 2017).
is a claims-management firm, that is, a third-party
administrator of insurance claims. At the times material
hereto, Hartford Insurance Company (Hartford) insured the
Radius Danvers nursing facility (Radius), located in Danvers,
Massachusetts. Hartford retained Sedgwick to handle claims
arising out of Radius's operations.
this period, Genevieve Calandro was a resident at Radius.
While there, she fell from her wheelchair and was taken to a
local hospital. She never returned to Radius and died at a
hospice facility on August 16, 2008.
securing letters of administration, the plaintiff sued Radius
in a Massachusetts state court. His complaint adumbrated
claims for negligence and wrongful death. Sedgwick learned of
the suit on October 12, 2011. On the same day, it received a
letter from the plaintiff's attorney demanding $500, 000
to settle the plaintiff's claims. According to Sedgwick,
no information that might have facilitated settlement was
received along with the demand letter.
engaged Attorney Lawrence Kenney as Radius's defense
counsel. It also engaged an independent adjuster, Paul
Bistany, and instructed him to "assess the liability and
injuries for possible resolution." Bistany's first
report, dated October 24, 2011, noted that the cause of death
seemed to be related to ongoing medical conditions and, thus,
did not necessarily evince any negligence on Radius's
part. In the same report, Bistany noted that some of the
documents that he expected to find (such as the incident
report following the fall) were missing from Radius's
files. Finally, Bistany explained that he had experienced
difficulty in locating witnesses (apparently because
Radius's parent company was in the process of closing the
furnished a second report to Sedgwick in January of 2012.
This report recounted, inter alia, his success in locating
and interviewing two nurses who had cared for Genevieve
Calandro. Their information proved unhelpful, though, as they
offered inconsistent recollections of what transpired before
and after Genevieve fell from her wheelchair. In July of
2012, the plaintiff added Dr. David Wahl, who was both
Radius's medical director and Genevieve's attending
physician, as a defendant in the state-court suit.
fast-forward to May 1, 2013. On that date, a hearing was held
before a medical malpractice tribunal (MMT). See
Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 231, § 60B. During the MMT
proceeding, the plaintiff tendered an offer of proof, which
included Genevieve's death certificate and some form of
opinion evidence from a retained expert, Dr. Paul Genecin.
The record of the MMT proceeding is not in evidence, and the
parties dispute what quantum of information Sedgwick received
at that time. Sedgwick maintains that the plaintiff's
offer of proof was simply an outline of Dr. Genecin's
opinion and, as such, was insufficient to make liability
reasonably clear. It adds that it did not receive Dr.
Genecin's full report until April 27, 2014. The plaintiff
disagrees: he asserts - based on his interpretation of a note
handwritten by Mary Blair (the Sedgwick official in charge of
the case) - that Sedgwick was given Dr. Genecin's full
report in anticipation of the MMT proceeding (May of 2013)
and that, therefore, the MMT proceeding yielded information
that established Radius's liability for the death of
allowed the state-court suit to proceed, see Mass.
Gen. Laws ch. 231, § 60B, and discovery continued.
During Dr. Wahl's deposition, taken on November 13, 2013,
the plaintiff offered to settle all claims against Radius and
Dr. Wahl for $500, 000. The defendants responded on February
6, 2014, extending a joint settlement offer of $275, 000. Of
this amount, Radius was to contribute $125, 000. Around the
same time (February 7, 2014), Attorney Kenney wrote a report
to Sedgwick, in which he forecast the defendants'
exposure at verdict to be in the $300, 000 to $500, 000
plaintiff rejected the defendants' February 6
counter-offer, but the parties persisted in their efforts to
settle the state-court suit. Nevertheless, the gap grew wider
when, in April of 2014, the plaintiff increased his demand to
$1, 000, 000. The next month, the defendants put a joint
counter-offer of $300, 000 on the table. In a letter dated
June 4, 2014, Attorney David Hoey, representing the
plaintiff, rejected this counteroffer and began efforts to
get separate offers from each of the defendants.
mid-June of 2014, Blair called Attorney Hoey and voiced her
desire to settle the matter. Before Blair got around to
proposing a settlement amount, Attorney Hoey ended the call,
saying that he needed to speak with his client. Blair heard
back, albeit indirectly, when Attorney Hoey emailed Attorney
Kenney on June 17, that the case could not be resolved in the
range of the last previous offer. Dr. Wahl's counsel
found a more receptive audience: he settled the
plaintiff's claims against his client for $250, 000 - a
settlement in which the plaintiff reserved all rights against
Radius. Neither Sedgwick nor Attorney Kenney was privy to
3, 2014, one of Attorney Hoey's associates emailed
Attorney Kenney, informed him of the separate settlement with
Dr. Wahl, and demanded $1, 000, 000 to settle the
plaintiff's claims against Radius. The e-mail indicated
that unless an offer exceeding $500, 000 was extended by July
9, settlement negotiations would be terminated and the case
would proceed to trial. Due to the July 4 holiday, Attorney
Kenney did not see the e-mail until July 8. No counter-offer
was made within the stipulated time frame. On July 14,
though, Attorney Kenney offered the ...