A federal jury in South Carolina awarded $14.5 million in damages recently to a South Carolina printing company in a case brought against The Hartford insurance company. The insurer had denied a claim for a major fire loss in 2008 contending that the fire was caused by arson. In March 2008, investigators said someone sprinkled fuel to set 11 different fires in the building of Genesis Press. The fires damaged several printing presses, computer drives and other equipment. Two weeks earlier, the business had been vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti, according to testimony at the trial.
Hartford said that it stopped paying on the $7 million claim after it became suspicious. The insurer alleged that the owners of Genesis Press enlisted the aid of an alcoholic family member to perform “surgical strikes” on the presses and inflict damage to computer drives to make the arson appear to be a crime of passion. The owners of the business said Hartford’s investigators failed to adequately pursue other leads in the case, including one involving a former disgruntled employee.
After Genesis Press sued Hartford for bad faith, Hartford filed a counterclaim seeking to recover $2 million paid out before denying the insurance claim. The jury found that Hartford was wrong to deny the printing company’s claim and found for the business owners. Hartford plans to appeal.
Source: Insurance Journal
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