Kenneth Mr. Vercammen was included in the 2020 “Super Lawyers” list published by Thomson Reuters.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Commercial Insurance Company of Newark v. Mary Steiger

07-20-07 A-1314-05T1

Decedent perished in a one-car collision. His Estate sued
the vehicle's manufacturer, alleging the products liability
theory that the death occurred because the vehicle was not
"crash worthy." After the products liability suit was settled,
the Estate filed a UM claim, alleging that the accident was
caused by a "phantom" vehicle. UM insurer filed a declaratory
judgment action to preclude the UM claim on several grounds.
We hold that the Estate is not barred from pursuing a UM
claim based on the doctrines of judicial estoppel, which applies
when a party has convinced a court to accept its position. The
doctrine does not apply here because a settlement does not imply
endorsement of a party's position by the court.

We also hold that the settlement of the products liability
claim without the consent of the UM insurer does not bar the UM
claim because the products liability defendant is neither an
uninsured motorist nor the owner of an uninsured vehicle.
Lastly, we hold that, in order to avoid a double recovery,
the UM insurer is entitled to a credit for the amount of the
products liability settlement.