May 2, 2017
Kenneth Greenfield and Kate Greenfield obtained a defense verdict in an insurance bad faith trial involving the suspicious theft of an insured’s 2013 Chevy Camaro. Plaintiff insured had parked his car on a street in Los Angeles for a week while he vacationed in Palm Springs. He gave the transponder key to his nephew to watch over the vehicle. When he returned, the vehicle was gone. The nephew still had the key, and there was no evidence that the car had been stolen or even towed by the police. The insurer suspected fraud, took a lengthy period of time to fully investigate by taking various witness statements and an examination under oath of the insured, but finally paid the full value of the Camaro nearly 8 months later. Before payment was made, the insured filed suit claiming breach of contract and insurance bad faith. It was claimed that the insurance company had unreasonably delayed payment of the claim, and had caused the insured severe emotional distress by allegedly inferring that the insured was criminally involved in the theft.
After a 10 day trial the jury deliberated for two hours and returned an 11-1 defense verdict. Plaintiff’s demand had been $250,000, and the defendant’s Code of Civil Procedure section 998 offer to compromise had been in the amount of $15,001. Thus, defendant was entitled to costs in an amount in excess of $70,000.