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The Connecticut Court of Appeals was called to resolve an appeal by Helyn Byrd regarding the judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the insurance agent and Nationwide Insurance Co. of America (Nationwide). The trial court granted the defendants’ motion to strike all four counts of the plaintiff’s revised complaint. In Helyn Byrd v. Wendelynne Ortiz et al., No. AC 33470 (Conn.App. 06/12/2012), the appeal issue was whether the court improperly granted the motion to strike counts one and three of the revised complaint alleging claims of negligence.

In July 2005, the plaintiff contacted Ortiz, a licensed insurance agent employed and authorized by Nationwide to sell insurance policies on its behalf, about purchasing an automobile insurance policy for her two vehicles. Ortiz advised the plaintiff to purchase a Nationwide automobile insurance policy with bodily injury liability coverage in the amount of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. Each year thereafter, on the advice of Ortiz and with Byrd’s consent, the plaintiff renewed the policy with the same levels of coverage. Ortiz never advised the plaintiff to increase or otherwise change the amount of coverage under the policy.

In 2009, while riding as a passenger in a vehicle insured under the policy, the plaintiff was involved in an accident with another motor vehicle. Byrd brought a claim against the owners of the other vehicle for injuries and damages she sustained as a result of the accident. The owners of the other vehicle maintained automobile insurance with bodily injury liability coverage of $100,000 per person. Byrd settled her claim against the owners for the owners’ policy limit of $100,000. Byrd alleged that the value of the injuries and damages she sustained exceeded $100,000 and as a result of Ortiz’s negligence in failing to advise the plaintiff properly or to inquire of her about the appropriate amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, she was without sufficient underinsured motorist coverage to compensate her for her losses.

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