In a recent opinion the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico denied an insurance company’s motion to bifurcate claims and stay discovery. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(b), federal courts have the authority to take actions including ordering separate trials over multiple claims. The courts enjoy broad discretion with respect to granting or denying this relief and, also, with respect to related requests to stay discovery.
The plaintiff’s car had allegedly been rear-ended. Her complaint alleged that she had been stopped in traffic when a vehicle struck her vehicle from behind, and that she sustained serious personal injuries as a result. She sought to recoup damages for medical bills, enduring pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of household services.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff could not recover from the owner of the car that had rear-ended her car. This was because it was not the owner who was driving the car at the time of the accident. The owner’s mother was driving, and she allegedly had her license revoked prior to the accident for driving under the influence of alcohol and did not have liability insurance. The plaintiff therefore decided to pursue a recovery from her own automobile insurer, under the uninsured motorist coverage provisions of the insurance policy.