In what is believed to be a first in New York State, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick (led by Scott Middleton) prevailed on a motion for pre-judgment attachment in a personal injury and wrongful death case. The order of attachment provides security to our client, who faces the frightening possibility that her damages would exceed the defendant’s insurance coverage.
CMM represents the surviving family members of a man who passed away following a tragic car accident. The defendant’s vehicle was covered by a $25,000/$50,000 policy, well below the anticipated total damages. This grim possibility, coupled with evidence from the concurrent criminal case that the defendant had intended to escape by boat to a country without an extradition treaty with the U.S., prompted the CMM team to seek an order of attachment. Such an order removes property owned by a defendant from his control so that it may be preserved to satisfy a judgment in the event the plaintiff prevails.
Courts characterize attachment as a “harsh” remedy within the court’s discretion. Here, the court found that CMM successfully demonstrated that a viable cause of action exists as a result of defendant’s negligence and that it was probable that the plaintiff would succeed on the merits of the case. Agreeing that there was also a strong likelihood that damages would exceed the minimal coverage available, the court found “ample” support for granting the order of attachment.
While pre-judgment attachment is not unusual in commercial matters, we are unaware of any other personal injury actions in which a party successfully moved for such an order.