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$14.5 million defamation judgment against State Farm stands

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State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. is on the hook for a $14.5 million award to a contractor on his defamation lawsuit after the Indiana Supreme Court declined to take the case last week.

The case, State Farm Fire & Casualty Company v. Joseph Martin Radcliff and Coastal Property Management LLC, a/k/a CPM Construction of Indiana, was before the justices on transfer. They decided not to take the case Oct. 10, leaving in place the affirmation of the multi-million judgment by the Indiana Court of Appeals in April.

Joseph Radcliff and his company Coastal Property Management LLC alleged defamation against the insurer after State Farm sued Radcliff and his company for racketeering and insurance fraud. The suits were initiated after State Farm received bad press for denying homeowners’ claims for hail damage following a spring storm in central Indiana in 2006. Radcliff helped homeowners fight State Farm for coverage.

A jury ruled in favor of Radcliff after a six-week trial in Hamilton County in 2011. At the time it affirmed the judgment, the Court of Appeals noted how the judgment was one of the largest defamation awards in U.S. history. The judgment now stands at $17 million when including statutory post-judgment interest, according to Price Waicukauski & Riley, the firm that represented Radcliff.
 

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