A federal jury has awarded the mayor of a small North Dakota town more than $2 million in a lawsuit over an insurance company’s failure to pay a valid insurance claim after a fire. Timothy and Sylvia Moore sued American Family Insurance after a fire destroyed a vacant duplex the couple owned in Walsh County, North Dakota. The plaintiffs claimed the insurance company had wrongly blamed them for the fire. The amount of coverage under the insurance policy on the duplex was $50,000. The jury awarded the plaintiff’s $1.15 million for bad faith on the part of the insurance company in failing to settle the claim as well as $1.15 million in punitive damages and more than $48,000 for breach of contract.
Timothy Moore is the mayor of Mountain, a town of about 130 people in Pembina County, North Dakota. Timothy Moore, a custom farmer, had planned to move the house near the Cavalier Air Force Station and rent it to people working at a radar base located in the area. The Moores say the fire was not intentionally set and contended that the insurance company acted in bad faith by failing to pay the claim. Interestingly, while Timothy Moore was never charged with arson, the insurance company accused him of arson and turned the case over to the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The Bureau, along with the fire marshal’s office, investigated. It appears there was no evidence of arson and certainly none that implicated the plaintiffs.
Source: Insurance Journal
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