“You Are A Tenacious Litigator!” (Allstate’s Lawyer)
It was, in retrospect, our first big case. The case started simply enough. A friend and associate lawyer at our old firm asked me to take a look at a case. It seemed that a seventy-year-old gentleman whom our law firm represented was having a dispute with Allstate Insurance Company regarding his 1995 Ford Escort. The car was stolen and burned one night. It was recovered shortly after it disappeared, but it was not salvageable due to smoke and fire damage. Our client, a seventy-year-old Asbestosis (lung cancer) victim, lived one mile down a dirt road and another mile from the nearest convenience store in rural Marion County. When he made a claim on his comprehensive insurance coverage, Allstate promptly denied his claim and proceeded to blame him. Imagine that an elderly man suffering from Asbestosis, who lives two miles from the nearest store, stole and burned his own vehicle so he could recover the paltry value of his vehicle’s insurance proceeds. It makes perfect sense, right?
So, we proceeded with filing suit and the case began its long hard slog through the litigation process. We discovered at depositions that Allstate (The Good Hands People) hired its own special investigator to scrutinize our client. Moreover, Allstate’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Adjuster stated on the record that they deny every claim in which the car is stolen and burned. Under that reasoning, if Mother Theresa’s car were stolen and burned, her claim (at least with Allstate) would be DENIED!
After a really disappointing mediation, we noticed the case for trial and prepared feverishly. For a greenhorn young lawyer, the anxiety of preparing for trial in a case with no guarantee of winning was daunting. Six (6) days before trial, Allstate’s adjuster calls me and says he finally received authority to settle the case. In Florida when an insurance company refuses to pay a claim of its own insured and the insured is forced to file suit and wins or at least forces the insurance company to pay (the legal term is “confession of judgment” by the insurance company), the insurance company is required to pay the legal fees of the insured.
After the case and its attorney fee component finally resolved, Allstate’s lawyer congratulated me for our hard work and said “You are a tenacious litigator.” I smiled and thanked her for the opportunity to work with her.