7th Circuit affirms District Court in attorney house fire case

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a grant of summary judgment in favor of an insurer because an attorney and his wife failed to produce documents the company requested repeatedly.

In Harry Foster III and Linda Foster v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, No. 11-3100, Harry and Linda Foster, their two children, Harry’s father and the family’s eight dogs were away when a fire severely damaged the family’s home on Jan. 3, 2009. Linda Foster submitted a claim to State Farm the next day under the family’s homeowners’ policy.

The insurer learned that the Fosters had at least two businesses, held numerous business and personal accounts, and were involved in multiple lawsuits. State Farm promptly requested documents including blueprints, utility bills and receipts. The insurer sent a letter to the Fosters at the end of January, reminding them of their obligation to submit requested documents, and did so again in March.

By mid-March, State Farm’s fire investigator concluded the fire was set intentionally and referred the claim to its Special Investigative Unit.

The Fosters’ deadline to submit proof of loss was May 2, 2009, but they requested a 60-day extension, which State Farm granted. A few days later, the Fosters asked for more time and State Farm again extended the deadline. On Aug. 5, the couple submitted nearly 1,000 pages of documents.   

On Aug. 13 and 15, Harry Foster sat for his examination under oath; Linda Foster’s EUO was on Aug. 26. Based on statements the couple made about previously undisclosed bank accounts and business dealings, State Farm requested additional documents, dating back to 2002.

Citing Morris v. Economy Fire & Cas. Co., 848 N.E.2d 663 (Ind. 2006), the 7th Circuit wrote that the Fosters’ duty was not only to give State Farm documents they possessed, but to acquire and deliver other documents related to their financial condition.

“As a matter of law, the Fosters’ failure to produce requested documents or even explain why they could not, and their related failure to complete Mrs. Foster’s EUO, materially breached the contract,” Judge John Tinder wrote on behalf of the circuit court.



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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.