ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Jeremy Telman
Valparaiso University Law School

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Will They Ever Learn?

Will They Ever Learn?

Insurance companies have a notorious reputation for failing to uphold contracts with their insureds. Such was the case for Ms. Laura Dziadek when she tried to have the Charter Oak Fire Ins. Co. pay for her medical bills. Dziadek v. Charter Oak Fire Ins. Co., 867 F.3d 1003. After a tragic car accident Ms. Dziadek had significant medical bills. Initially, Ms. Dziadek received $100,000 from her Progressive Insurance policy, but it wasn’t enough to cover her medical expenses. She hired representation and they sought insurance attached to the vehicle in which she was injured. The first attempt to contact Charter Oak yielded no response. The second attempt resulted in a blatant lie that “[the policy] could be over 2000 pages.” Dziadek v. Charter Oak Fire Ins. Co., 867 F.3d 1007. By the time the litigation was hashed out it came about that Ms. Dziadek was not only covered by their policy, but also that the document in question was only 200 pages long. Eventually, a verdict was awarded in favor of Ms. Dziadek for nearly $3 million, including UIM coverage, legal fees, and punitive damages. Charter Oak sought to have all the damages dismissed, but they were ultimately upheld by the 8th Circuit.

I wish that this was a one-time occurrence for insurance companies, that the damages would ultimately cripple them into compliance. However, as we all know insurance companies will continue to make money, and to try and withhold money owed to their clients. The mere fact that ‘deceit’ is an available charge to levy against insurance companies should be a wake-up call to legislatures that laws are to lax, and these insurers are out of control. Until that time lawyers must do their diligence to defend clients from insurance companies, to straighten out the crooked path insurance companies make their customers walk.

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