New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association Verdicts and Settlement Report
PO Box 447
Concord, NH 03302-0447
Case Title: Nora Jean Eaton v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
County: Hillsborough – Goffstown District Court
Date of Injury: December 2005
This case involved the bad faith insurance practices of State Farm Insurance Company. The plaintiff, Nora Jean Eaton, lost her husband in a single car accident in December 2005 when he suffered a medical condition that caused him to lose control of his truck and crash into a tree. While the plaintiff was still consumed by grief over the loss of her husband of more than thirty years, the defendant, State Farm Insurance, tried to force her to accept its lowball settlement offer of the value of her husband’s truck and required her to do so within 24 hours. The defendant refused to give the plaintiff time during her grief to move her husband’s truck and get an independent appraisal of its value to evaluate the reasonableness of its claim. When the plaintiff refused to accept the offer before getting the truck appraised, the defendants charged her more than $3,500 in towing, wrecking and storage fees. The plaintiff was also injured by her insurer’s attempts to coerce her to immediately accept an offer for the value of her deceased husband’s vehicle less than one month after he died in that same vehicle and while she was dealing with numerous other matters relating to the loss of her husband.
Plaintiff: Sex:F Age:N/A
Plaintiffs’ Theory of Liability:
The plaintiff sued the defendant for breach of her insurance contract, for Consumer Protection Act violations, and for malicious defense. The plaintiff was injured by the defendant’s bad faith attempts to get her to settle her claim without conducting proper investigation. The plaintiff alleged that State Farm Insurance Company unlawfully committed unfair business practices by knowingly and wilfully refusing to pay for the towing, wrecking and storage fees on a vehicle that the defendant assessed as a total loss, notably at a value below fair market price, and without notice to the plaintiff on the date the defendant refused to pay additional storage fees. The plaintiff consequently had to pay the fees, after an independent appraisal and accepting the defendant’s offer, in order for the vehicle to be released. The plaintiff was also injured by her insurer’s attempts to coerce her to immediately accept an offer for the value of her deceased husband’s vehicle less than one month after he died in that same vehicle and while she was dealing with numerous other matters relating to the loss of her husband. The plaintiff was injured by the defendant’s unlawful and unfair refusal to reimburse her money for storage fees paid despite several good faith attempts to get reimbursed for those fees. Further, the defendant, State Farm Insurance, knowingly and willfully refused to reimburse the plaintiff for the storage fees paid after attempting to coerce the plaintiff to accept an offer for a vehicle in less than 24 hours without determining its reasonableness through an independent appraisal, despite multiple good faith requests for the storage fees to be paid or for the vehicle to be moved to a storage free location.
Defendants’ Theory of Defense:
The defendant denied liability on all counts.
In addition to the emotional distress she suffered from dealing with her bad faith insurance company wile dealing with her grief from the death of her husband, the plaintiff incurred more than $3,500 in expenses accumulated in towing, wrecking and storage fees.
The parties reached settlement for the all costs and the total value of the accumulated expenses after filing suit but prior to trial.
For the plaintiff: Mark A. Abramson, Esq. and Holly B. Haines, Esq.
Abramson, Brown & Dugan, PA
1819 Elm Street
Manchester, New Hampshire