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  Insurance - Legal News

Woman gets up to 10 years for insurance fraud

  Insurance  -   POSTED: 2012/09/03 16:06

A repeat offender from Caldwell received up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of insurance fraud.

Martha Patricia Feely, sentenced last week in 4th District Court, was already on felony probation in a California insurance fraud case in 2009 when she submitted forged performance bond documents to three southwestern Idaho government agencies.

Performance bonds are necessary to bid on public jobs and ensure a contractor will fulfill its obligations.

Such bonds also ensure subcontractors and suppliers will be paid.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said Friday Feely's duplicitousness violates a system where companies usually work ethically to ensure fairness on public works jobs.

When one person breaks the rules, he said, it puts honest business owners at a disadvantage.

The Progressive Corp. insurance group is defending itself against an onslaught of negative publicity after it tried to avoid paying $75,000 to the family of a client killed in a car crash and sought to blame the wreck on her.

The criticism began Monday with a blog post from 33-year-old Matt Fisher of Brooklyn, whose sister Kaitlynn Fisher had Progressive insurance and was killed in a June 2010 car crash in Baltimore. In order to avoid the payout to Kaitlynn Fisher's family, Progressive interjected itself into a lawsuit the Fisher family filed against the other driver.

Last week, a jury found the other driver negligent, despite Progressive's efforts to persuade the jury otherwise.

Matt Fisher said Thursday that the deluge of online support his family has received is gratifying. The backlash against Progressive was strong enough that the Ohio-based company felt compelled to issue a public statement on the case. The statement denied Progressive was representing the driver who was ultimately found negligent. And it prompted even further backlash because it failed to acknowledge that, as a practical matter, Progressive's lawyer was indeed working in court as a third party to combat the Fisher family's claims.

While Fisher didn't quite anticipate the wave of support he received, he was sure others who learned about the case would be as shocked as he was that his sister's own insurance company was going to such lengths to cast the blame on her for the accident.

Calif. Supreme Court tells insurers to pay

  Insurance  -   POSTED: 2012/08/11 17:35

The California Supreme Court has told insurance companies they must pay up to the policy limits for cleanup of a toxic dump in Riverside County.

Thursday's unanimous decision in the decades-long dispute means the state will likely receive tens of millions of dollars more from insurers to clean up the Stringfellow Acid Pits near Glen Avon.

The industrial waste facility operated by the state from 1956 to 1972 leaked contaminants into ground water.

The Los Angeles Times says the California Supreme Court ruled that consecutive insurance policies require each insurer to pay up to their policy limits for waste site damages.

The court says the state, which purchased multiple policies and paid multiple premiums, should be able to collect up to the policy limit from each company.

Appeals court tosses insurance fraud convictions

  Insurance  -   POSTED: 2011/08/02 14:01

A federal appeals court has thrown out the fraud convictions of five former executives from American International Group Inc. and Stamford-based General Re Corp.

The five had been convicted in a $500 million fraud case. But the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday sent the case back to U.S. District Court in Hartford, Conn., for another trial.

Prosecutors had alleged the executives were part of a fraud in which New York-based AIG paid Stamford-based Gen Re in a secret deal to take out reinsurance policies with AIG in 2000 and 2001.

The appeals court found that the trial judge abused his discretion by admitting stock-price data during the trial. It says the judge also gave improper instructions to the jury.

All five executives had been sentenced to prison.

A Georgia insurance company that paid a wrongful death claim on behalf of a former Utah State University fraternity has settled the lawsuit it brought against four of the fraternity's members.

The Herald Journal of Logan reports that attorneys for RSUI Inc. told a 1st District Court judge the company had resolved a dispute with the four men. Court records show attorneys met with the judge April 20 — one day before a planned hearing.

RSUI sought $50,000 each from Sigma Nu pledge Chad Burton and chapter officers Cody Littlewood, Colton Hansen and Mitchell Alm as compensation for a settlement payment to the parents of Michael Starks.

Starks died Nov. 21, 2008, from alcohol poisoning after a fraternity event.

At the time, RSUI was the insurer for the fraternity and its members, including pledges. RSUI attorneys have acknowledged that both the company and the four defendants would have been jointly liable to Starks' parents, George and Jane Starks of Salt Lake City. The company claims it paid the full amount of a settlement with the Starks, although those terms have not been made public.

Court: Insurance rates can reflect credit scores

  Insurance  -   POSTED: 2010/07/12 16:28

Insurance companies can use a person's credit report to determine rates, the Michigan Supreme Court said Thursday in declaring that state regulators exceeded their authority when they banned the practice as discriminatory.

The decision ends a legal battle between insurance companies and Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration that has reached three courts since 2005.

The industry says people with strong credit reports make fewer claims and deserve lower rates than people with weak credit reports. The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, said Michigan law allows companies to offer people with good credit lower rates.

"It is difficult to see how offering discounts to some insureds on the basis of good insurance scores is inconsistent with the (law's) general purpose of availability and affordability of insurance for all consumers," Justice Maura Corrigan wrote in the majority opinion.

Court upholds settlement in asbestos lawsuits

  Insurance  -   POSTED: 2009/06/19 15:14

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to let an insurance company settle some asbestos lawsuits for about $500 million in exchange for blocking any future litigation resulting from its long relationship with Johns Manville Corp., once the world's largest producer of asbestos.

Travelers Cos. had been named in lawsuits alleging that it tried to hide dangerous health effects of asbestos. The company argued that asbestos claims must be paid out of a trust created by Johns Manville in the 1980s and approved by a federal bankruptcy judge.

Asbestos is a mineral that was commonly used until the mid-1970s in insulation and fireproofing material. Exposure can increase the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma and other ailments, according to federal health agencies.

Travelers settled with several groups of plaintiffs in 2004 with the caveat that federal courts make clear the company would not have to face any new similar lawsuits. The 2nd U.S Circuit Court of Appeals overturned lower-court approval of the settlement, saying a bankruptcy judge lacked the authority to act so broadly.

The high court on Thursday overturned that decision and sent the case back to the New York-based federal appeals court.

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