FR Obtains Verdict for California Fire Loss Victim in Ivers v. Allstate Insurance Co.
South Lake Tahoe, CA
In January of 1997 Thomas Ivers lost his 5,500 square foot dream home to a fire. With over $650,000 in homeowner’s insurance, Ivers was expecting to rebuild. Instead, fourteen months later Allstate denied his claim, accusing Ivers of arson, fraud, and non-cooperation. After years of expensive litigation, Ivers finally had his day in court.
On August 26, 2005 a South Lake Tahoe jury awarded Ivers $676,000. This amount represented the benefits under the Allstate policy that Ivers should have been paid following the fire. The jury rejected each of Allstate’s defenses, finding that the insurer did not prove the fire was caused by Ivers, that Ivers did not materially overstate the value of his contents, and that Ivers did not refuse to cooperate with Allstate’s investigation of the claim.
The three week trial included testimony that an investigator for Allstate’s lawyer attempted to hire a burglar to break into Ivers’ home to search for information to incriminate him. Unfortunately for the investigator, he was speaking to an undercover Sacramento Police officer who was wearing a wire. In the recorded transcript, Allstate’s investigator is heard saying: “We all want this case to go away, and it ain’t going to go away until, uh, you know, we catch Ivers doing something he shouldn’t be doing, but we don’t want him to catch us doing something we shouldn’t be doing.”
Having finally obtained an award of his policy benefits, Ivers is entitled to an award of interest to compensate him for the long delay. Another trial against Allstate, for its bad faith claims handling and for punitive damages, will follow.
Ken Friedman of Friedman | Rubin and Glenn Guenard of Guenard & Bozarth, LLP, represented Mr. Ivers.