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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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