State Farm Fire Casualty v. Joseph Martin Radcliff, et al. - 2/26/13

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Tuesday  February 26, 2013 
10:30 AM  EST

10:30 a.m. 29A04-1110-CT-571. Indiana Supreme Court courtroom. On April 14, 2006, central Indiana suffered a hailstorm that caused millions of dollars in property damage and generated thousands of insurance claims.  Following the storm, Joseph Radcliff created Coastal Property Management LLC (CPM) to assist homeowners in identifying storm damage, repairing that damage, and working with insurance companies to pay for repairs.  Many State Farm & Casualty Co. policyholders’ claims were denied, and some of them complained to the Indiana Department of Insurance.  Radcliff was retained by a number of State Farm policyholders.  Two State Farm employees began investigating Radcliff for insurance fraud and forwarded their files to the authorities.  The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges against Radcliff, but those charges were later dismissed.

State Farm sued Radcliff and CPM for racketeering and insurance fraud in Hamilton Superior Court.  State Farm alleged that Radcliff, through CPM, had a fraudulent scheme of intentionally damaging homes to simulate hail and wind damage and submitting false insurance claims.  Radcliff and CPM counterclaimed alleging that State Farm defamed Radcliff by falsely accusing him of criminal conduct
 
 In June 2011, after a six-week jury trial at which forty witnesses testified, the jury found in favor of Radcliff and CPM on their defamation counterclaim and awarded them $14.5 million.  After the verdict, State Farm filed a motion to correct errors in which it moved for judgment on the evidence, argued that it was entitled to a new trial under the “Thirteenth Juror Rule,” and argued that the damage award was excessive.  The trial court denied State Farm’s motion.  State Farm now appeals the defamation judgment arguing that its communications were protected by statutory immunity and a common-law qualified privilege for crime reporting, Radcliff failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that State Farm acted with actual malice, and the damages are excessive.

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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