An Oklahoma widower was awarded $25.5 million by a jury against Aetna health insurance because his wife, a cancer patient, was denied coverage by Aetna. The jury found that Aetna acted recklessly.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on August 25, 2017 as a Category 4 Hurricane and caused widespread destruction throughout the greater Houston area and surrounding counties. Harvey's extreme wind speeds reached 130 mph or higher, produced record setting numbers of tornados and inches of rain fall throughout the Houston area, and caused Texas homes and businesses to suffer extensive damage and devastation.
One of the largest auto insurance companies has reached a $250 million preliminary settlement in a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges that State Farm violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act). The plaintiffs believe State Farm funneled money through several advocacy groups, which in turn kept donor lists anonymous, in order to elect a certain candidate to the Illinois Supreme Court in 2004.
Earlier this month, the Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion in Great American Insurance Company v. Hamel clarifying the circumstances where an insurer who refuses to provide a defense to its insured may be held accountable for a judgment successfully obtained against its insured. In the underlying case, homeowners sued their builder for failing to construct their home in a good and workmanlike manner. They claimed that defects in workmanship caused water damage. The builder's insurance company refused to provide the builder with a defense to the homeowner's claims. Prior to trial, the homeowners and builder agreed, in effect, that if the homeowners were successful, then the homeowners would not seek to collect on the assets of the builder.
In an opinion issued today, the Texas First Court of Appeals in Houston held that the trial judge in an underinsured motorist insurance case did not abuse his discretion by declining to sever and abate the plaintiff's claims under the Texas Insurance Code for misrepresentation of policy terms. This case is a significant development in an area where such "extra-contractual" claims have routinely be held to be severable.
The Travis County DA's office has launched a criminal investigation of State Farm, the massive insurer, regarding its handling of thousands of insurance claims following Hurricane Ike. Now, Senator Rodney Ellis is demanding that the Texas Department of Insurance ("TDI") reopen its investigation of State Farm and its Texas subsidiary, State Farm Lloyds. "Given that law enforcement is now investigating State Farm for the exact same concerns I raised with you eleven months ago, this problem can no longer be ignored," wrote Senator Ellis in a letter to TDI's Commissioner, Eleanor Kitzman. Kitzman responded by drafting a public letter to the Texas Legislature. "Given the severity of the accusations made by the District Attorney, TDI is carefully considering its options for further regulatory action in this matter," wrote Kitzman.
The Associated Press is reporting on a case arising out of a June 2010 auto crash that killed Kaitlynn Fisher. Progressive Insurance Company is now dealing with wide-spread negative publicity for its efforts to avoid paying policy benefits to the family of its insured, Kaitlynn Fisher, who died in the auto collision. The case stems from the June 2010 crash in which Fisher was killed in an auto collision with Ronald K. Hope III. According to an eyewitness at the scene, Hope ran a red light and caused the fatal collision. When Fisher's family made a claim with Hope's auto liability insurer, Nationwide, Hope's insurer did not dispute Hope's liability and paid the limits of Hope's policy to the Fisher family. Fisher's family then made a claim with their daughter's auto policy insurer, Progressive, for underinsured motorist coverage (UIM coverage). Progressive denied the claim.