Monday, January 5, 2004
Insurersí Payments Cannot Be Credited Towards RestitutionóC.A.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Payments to a crime victim by that personís own insurer, and by the insurer of the defendantís motherówho was named along with her son in the victimís lawsuitóshould not have been credited toward the defendantís restitution obligation, the Court of Appeal for this district has ruled.
Div. Five Tuesday ordered Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis to reconsider her denial of a motion to revoke Eric Duane Hamiltonís probation as a result of his alleged failure to satisfy his obligations to Donald Hill.
Hill, the court explained, was shot and injured while doing some work for Hamiltonís mother. Hamilton pled no contest to armed assault and was placed on probation for five years, one condition of which was that he pay $15,000 in restitution.
Probation has since been revoked and reinstated several times.
Hill sued Hamilton and his mother in 1998. He collected more than $15,000 from the motherís insurance company by way of settlement, and also had some of his medical bills paid under an insurance policy issued to him or his mother.
Prosecutors moved to revoke probation earlier this year, saying the restitution had not been paid. But the trial judge said the insurance payments had satisfied the obligation.
Justice Richard Mosk, writing for Div. Five, disagreed.
Payments from the victimís own insurer should not be credited to the defendant, Mosk said. And the payments by Lena Hamiltonís insurer were made for her benefit, not her sonís, and so canít be credited against his obligation, the justice said.
ďHere...there is no evidence that the settlement paid by Ms. Hamiltonís insurer was made on Hamiltonís behalf. The evidence is to the contrary. The settlement and release agreement signed by Hill expressly releases Ms. Hamilton; it does not mention Hamilton except in the caption in Hillís civil case against Hamilton and his mother. A letter from Ms. Hamiltonís insurer dated March 27, 2002 transmitting to her a copy of the signed release states: ĎPursuant to your request, enclosed are copies of the signed release, dismissal and settlement check we issued to resolve the claim made against you by Donald Hill.í Finally, a letter from Ms. Hamiltonís attorney advising her of Hillís agreement to settle his action against her states: ĎI am happy to advise that the Offer to Compromise in the amount of $30,000 has been accepted which will release and dismiss you from this lawsuit. We were also able to extricate your son, Eric, with respect to the civil action, obtaining a Request for Dismissal with Prejudice. However, it is not within our power or authority to have a Release made on Ericís behalf, given the prior restitution orders in the criminal matter...í Because the settlement paid by Ms. Hamiltonís insurer was made on her behalf, and not directly on behalf of Hamilton, it cannot be offset against Hamiltonís victim restitution obligation.Ē
The case is People v. Hamilton, 04 S.O.S. 16.
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