On September 16, 2014, an Indiana contractor was awarded $14.5+ million
in a defamation claim against State Farm. This is the largest defamation
verdict in Indiana history.
In 2006, a large storm blew through Indiana, destroying thousands of homes,
with damages totaling $1 billion. State Farm paid out more than $200 million
on nearly 50,000 claims. A local contractor claims that during this time,
State Farm ruined his reputation and ultimately damaged his business through
defaming his name.
While State Farm originally paid the verdict back in November, the insurance
giant decided they wanted to use one last legal trick to try and protect
their pockets. The company is trying to appeal based on a largely unknown
trial rule that would allow a judge to order a redo if information was
brought to light.
However, a judge has ruled that State Farm had full access to all information
they claim shows the contractor's fraudulent acts prior to the trial
being decided and failed to take action. It has been decided the trial
court ruling will remain.
Who will come out on top?
A former employee of the contractor came forward and stated that his boss
bribed a witness and even destroyed documents that cited the company's
misconduct. However, the court of appeals noted that State Farm had full
access to this information and had the opportunity to fairly defend themselves
prior to the end of the trial.
State Farm now has thirty days to pursue a review by the Court of Appeals
or ask the Indiana Supreme Court to open the case.