A Pinellas County, Florida judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan, in a matter stemming from his son’s 2007 car crash that left passenger, Nick Graziano, with permanent brain damage.
Though umbrella coverage was recommended on several occasions by his insurance agent – and refused by his wife – Hogan filed suit against his insurance broker, Wells Fargo Southeast, and his insurance carrier, Wells Fargo Insurance Services, Inc., last year alleging business malpractice because the limits on his auto policy were not enough to cover Graziano’s injury settlement. He later named his ex-wife in the suit.
The lawsuit claimed Wells Fargo Southeast and Wells Fargo Insurance Services (Wells Fargo) should have protected Hogan with an umbrella insurance policy, given his substantial assets and increased liability exposure as a result of his teenage children becoming licensed drivers.
Hogan further alleged he had no communication with the broker or insurer, and all communication was through his former wife.
Hogan’s insurance limit at the time was $250,000 per vehicle, according to court documents. Because both vehicles involved in the crash were owned by Hogan, the total limit available was $500,000.
Hogan claimed he had to pay out of pocket to help settle Graziano’s claim. Though the amount remains unknown due to a confidentiality agreement, he sued for full recovery of the settlement.
In a motion to dismiss, filed by Wells Fargo, it was noted that Hogan was bound by his then wife’s refusal of additional coverage. Umbrella coverage was offered on several occasions, including just 4 days prior to the 2007 accident.
Although Hogan claimed his former wife was incapable of making insurance decisions, the defendants were able to produce documentation that proved otherwise.
During the time period in which she refused Wells Fargo’s recommendations to purchase umbrella coverage, she procured a personal umbrella policy for her own company and increased insurance coverage on her jewelry and furniture.
Judge Baird, upon hearing the motion arguments last month, granted the dismissal without prejudice, giving Hogan another chance to file a valid action against Wells Fargo.
That is, until Hogan’s counsel accepted a nuisance settlement offer in order to avoid having to pay Wells Fargo’s fees and costs if the new cause of action was dismissed with prejudice.
According to Wells Fargo attorney Lloyd Schwed, “Wells Fargo gave the proper advice and recommendations so Hulk Hogan would be fully protected, but that advice was rejected four times. Wells Fargo did everything right in this case, but still got sued by Hulk Hogan. Fortunately, this match was not decided by World Wrestling Entertainment, but a court of law.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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