In a Roberts County case in the Fifth Judicial Circuit against Safeco Insurance Company, we obtained a favorable verdict on the underlying personal injury case, and pursued Safeco for its unreasonable conduct in handling the claim. In that setting, it is an examination of whether the company acted reasonably in denying the claim, and it is a review of why it acted the way it did.
The trial court required Safeco to produce its claims file, the information concerning incentive plans and bonuses for its claims personnel, claims training materials and manuals, and a list of all prior cases in which Safeco had been sued in South Dakota for fraud, breach of fiduciary duties, or bad faith. In the first trial the court awarded attorney’s fees in the amount of $21,243.80, and for the second trial the court ruled that the company’s conduct warranted proceeding with a claim for punitive damages. The bad faith claim was settled prior to the second trial.