Rad Gaines and Daniel Newton obtained a defense verdict for their client, State Farm.
On November 1, 2014, an individual mistook her gas pedal for the brake and drove her vehicle through the front wall of Plaintiffs’ orthodontics practice. That individual was insured by Allstate. State Farm insured the damaged building.
One month after the loss, Plaintiff was contacted by his local State Farm agent to discuss his policy renewal. During that conversation, Plaintiff advised the agent of the loss but stated that the tortfeasor’s insurer (Allstate) was handling. The agent reported the claim to State Farm. The next day a State Farm adjuster was at the property doing his inspection. At that time, repairs were between 60% and 80% complete. The damage was assessed and it was determined that the cost to repair Plaintiffs’ building was just over $14k.
After coming to his estimate, the adjuster contacted Plaintiffs’ builder to discuss. The two arranged to meet at the property the next day. At that time the adjuster gave the builder the draft estimate and asked him to review and let him know if anything was missing or wrong. The builder advised that he would review it and get back with him after the weekend. The adjuster called the builder the following Monday and was advised that the builder had yet to review the estimate but would that evening. The builder advised that he would and call the adjuster back the following day. The adjuster received no phone call. Believing the estimate was acceptable, State Farm sent the estimate along with a check for the amount less the Plaintiffs’ deductible to the Plaintiffs.
Several months later, State Farm reached out to Plaintiffs to inquire as to why the check had not yet been deposited. The company was advised that the check was for too little and that the insured was pursuing Allstate. State Farm closed its file. State Farm was later sued for breach of contract.
At trial, Plaintiffs presented evidence that they spent more than $90,000.00 repairing the building. In addition, Plaintiffs asserted claims for loss of income and damage to personal property. They asked for more than $175,000.00 from the jury in closing argument. State Farm minimized Plaintiffs’ damages arguing that the repair costs were unreasonable and that some of those expenditures went toward betterment of the property. The company further argued that it was never informed of claims for loss of income or damage to personal property prior to suit being filed.
After deliberating for less than an hour, the jury returned a verdict in favor of State Farm.