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Home / Insurance / Shannen Doherty Bad Faith judgment overturned and set aside for new trial | Property Insurance Law Team Blog

Shannen Doherty Bad Faith judgment overturned and set aside for new trial | Property Insurance Law Team Blog

Evidence and explanations of evidence are important in cases such as the practice of damages. State Farm really lost a lot of publicity by allowing a case in bad faith to go to trial with actress Shannen Doherty. Policyholders who read articles about that case must wonder if State Farm is really a "good neighbor." Nevertheless, her judgment in bad faith was overturned and a new trial was held. 1

Most people do not believe that a judgment in bad faith can result in years of appeals with damages that are carefully examined. Judgments can be revoked in whole or in part. I'm not sure how much some insurance company executives think about the bad press and damage to the reputation that comes from such lengthy negative litigation. Who wants an insurer that forces you to sue to get a claim paid and that also claims to treat you with something other than a culture of getting damages paid quickly and in full?

The trial against Shannen Doherty resulted in a verdict in bad faith, as then widely reported in the press. Here's what the Associated Press reported:

A federal jury in Los Angeles awarded $ 6.3 million to actor Shannen Doherty on Monday in a lawsuit alleging that State Farm had not paid enough for damages to her house in a California forest fire in 201


The jury found that the insurance giant's failure to pay insurance benefits for Doherty's home in Malibu was "unreasonable and without due cause".

The verdict covers damage to Doherty's house and property, emotional suffering and legal fees.

Her lawyers said in court documents that "instead of living out his remaining years in peace in his home, Doherty remains displaced and struggles with his insurance company."

In his statement Monday, the state . Farm said:

We feel empathy for Doherty's health and wish her luck. We are disappointed with the jury's decision and respectfully do not agree with it. We will examine all available legal options, including appealing the verdict.

State Farm followed up with motions after the trial. What has not been reported as widely is that the trial judge granted State Farm's motion for a new trial. The judge granted only that motion of bad faith:

The defendant requests a re-examination of the insurance claim in bad faith because the clear weight of the evidence shows that it did not act unreasonably or without proper reason to delay or deny insurance benefits to the plaintiff and that the damages are excessive and unsupported by evidence presented at the trial … The Court agrees with the defendant on both grounds and orders a new trial on this claim.

Police officers and some inexperienced lawyers often say how easy it is to win a "bad faith", aka "claims practice" case. When I hear people say this, it is obvious that they have never been on the road in any of these matters. When reading the verdict of the trial judge, it is obvious that more evidence could be placed around the facts to prove why the behavior complained of was unreasonable.

I highlighted this in a post, Great Expert Witnesses Are Important to Property Insurance Cases :

In order to determine damages and liability under the policy, testimony from experts before a jury is one of the most important tools. An entire case theory can carry on successful expert testimony, which is why policyholders' lawyers should start consulting experts right from the start of a case. It can not be exaggerated that winning or losing a real estate target often depends on the credibility and admissibility of experts. This is because without expert testimony, many cases of property insurance cannot be proven.

Courts have held that when an issue is beyond the public knowledge of an average person, an expert testimony will be required to testify on the essential issue of causation. Policyholders who fail to present competent expert opinions on the matter often fail to prove their case, which can ultimately lead to dismissal.

To maximize the impact of an expert witness, it is important to choose experts who have the jury's appeal – that is. say an ability to "connect" with a jury by breaking down complex concepts into easily digestible pieces of information that make it easy for the jury to understand. As Richard Friedman and Patrick Malone said in their book, "to win goals you must defeat complexity, confusion and ambiguity, otherwise they will defeat you." The aim is to present the simplest and most comprehensible expression of the principle to the jury. you are trying to convey.

I also encourage practitioners to study a book written by my friend Rick Friedman, which we noted in Rules Of The Road, by Rick Friedman . This book explains the basics that every lawyer should do to prove a case of "bad faith".

Thought for the day

Anyone can get angry – it is easy but to be angry at the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose and in the right way – it is not in everyone's power and is not easy.
1 Doherty v. State Farm Gen. Ins. Co. No. 2: 19-cv-01963 (C.D. Cal. January 11, 2022).

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