An Oklahoma judge has ordered Farmers Insurance and a subsidiary to pay a total of $15 million to three Plaintiffs who filed claims for damage to their homes caused by a deadly tornado that struck Woodward, Okla., in 2012. The Plaintiffs alleged that Farmers Insurance and Foremost Insurance Group underpaid claims and used adjusters that they knew would offer low estimates. District Judge Ray Dean Linder agreed with the Plaintiffs, and he said he “was shocked at the disservice that was rendered by the Defendants in each of the three cases.”
Judge Linder ordered the insurance companies to pay $2 million for bad faith and breach of duty and $3 million in punitive damages to each of the three Plaintiffs. The EF-3 tornado hit Woodward in April 2012, killing six people and injuring 29. The lawsuits were filed on behalf of homeowners Sterling Parks, Jeff and Mary Sharpe, and Kim and Linda Louthan. Jeff Marr, a lawyer from Oklahoma City, who represents the Plaintiffs, had this to say:
For every one or two or three – in this case – who stand up and say they won’t take it, there are a thousand who take it, because in many cases the people don’t have a choice. They are often left in a situation where their house is unlivable and they can’t afford to foot the bill to stay somewhere else or fix the home themselves.
According to allegations in the lawsuit, the insurance company’s adjuster determined that Parks’ home was not structurally damaged and could be repaired. But an engineer hired by Parks testified the home could not be fixed, should be torn down. Parks said his “life has been on hold basically for two years.” This case is typical of how insurance companies will all too often try to avoid paying a legitimate claim to an insured. Fortunately, Judge Linden recognized how this insurance company was operating and ruled for its insured. Jeff did a very good job for his clients in this case.
Source: Insurance Journal
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