Insurance Bad Faith Verdict - $1.5 Million
This case arose out of a motor vehicle wreck and an auto insurance company’s improper denial of coverage on a $50,000 liability insurance policy. Our client was hit by a negligent driver in Bedford County, Tennessee ultimately resulting in an amputation of her leg. The young girl who hit our client was covered under her parents' automobile liability insurance policy, but the insurance company denied coverage based on an exclusion in the policy. Because the at-fault driver was not defended by the insurance company, we took a default judgment against her for $1,000,000. After the first judgment was obtained, our client and the family of the at-fault driver joined forces and sued the insurance company for denying the claim in bad faith and for violating the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. Throughout the case, the insurance company denied any wrongdoing and refused to make any settlement offer. We took the case to trial in 2011. A Maury County jury disagreed with the insurance company and found it guilty of acting in bad faith and violating the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The jury verdict awarded over $1,000,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages. Following the jury verdict, the plaintiffs elected to decline the punitive damages and seek treble damages and attorneys fees under the Consumer Protection Act, which the trial court granted. The trial court judgment was in excess of $4,000,000. Despite the jury verdict, the insurer continued its denial of any wrongdoing and appealed the judgment to the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed the jury’s findings regarding its violations of the Consumer Protection Act, but reduced the amount of the judgment to approximately $1,500,000.00 The insurance company paid the amounts owed shortly after the Court of Appeals issued its opinion. Leverette v. Tenn. Farmers Mut. Ins. Co., M2011-00264-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. App., March 4, 2013).