In Day County, South Dakota, a jury returned a $2.4 million bad faith and breach of insurance contract verdict against Nationwide Insurance. We tried the case over a two-week period. The jury was unanimous. Nationwide’s use of improper training and incentives with claims personnel was before the jury. The verdict included $1 million in punitive damages, and is the largest verdict in the history of Day County.
The case arose when a competitor sued two small businessmen who were supposed to be protected by their commercial general liability insurance policy, sold to them by Nationwide. Nationwide wrongfully refused to defend, and subjected these small businessmen to an expensive and risky litigation exposure. The jury had no trouble seeing the evil in Nationwide’s conduct toward its insureds.
Our office specializes in handling disputes with insurance carriers. We particularly appreciate the opportunity to review denials of coverage. Our experience is that a high percentage of claims are wrongfully denied by insurance carriers.