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Date: 01-11-2002

Case Style: Tammy and Michael Roberts vs. State Farm Insurance Company, et al.

Case Number: CJ-1997-603

Judge: Jack Mayberry

Court: District Court, Rogers County, Oklahoma

Plaintiff's Attorney: James E. Cinocca, Jr. of McCormick, Field & Cinocca, PLLC, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Defendant's Attorney: John S. Gladd of Atkinson, Haskins, et al., Tulsa, Oklahoma

Description: In May of 1995 there was catastrophic storm damage in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Thousands of vehicles sustained severe flood and hail damage. State Farm paid thousands of total loss claims to its insureds and took possession of and title to those vehicles. The Plaintiffs alleged that State Farm intentionally had several of the vehicles titled in State Farm's name with "clean" titles and not titled with salvage certificates as required by Texas state law in effect in 1995.

A Claremore, Oklahoma used car dealer purchased a 1993 Pontiac from Insurance Auto Auctions (IAA) with a clean Texas title, brought it back to Claremore and sold it to the Plaintiffs with the representation that it had not been damaged. Testimony in the case showed that a doctor in Texas who claimed the 1993 Pontiac as a loss sat and watched the Pontiac flood from across the street. State Farm placed the Pontiac in the IAA yard for processing and auction.

State Farm inspectors at the IAA yard made a determination that the Pontiac, and other cars, should not have been paid as total losses. These inspectors instructed an IAA employee to procure a clean Texas title for this Pontiac. The IAA employee knew this was a violation of Texas law, but felt pressured to request the title as State Farm requested.

Ultimately, the Plaintiffs experienced insurmountable mechanical and electrical problems with the Pontiac and it died. The Plaintiffs had purchased the Pontiac for $14,650 in 1995. The Plaintiffs were seeking actual and punitive damages from State Farm.

State Farm denied any negligence or fraud and maintained its actions were, at worst, a mistake.

Outcome: Mediation resulted in an $80,000.00 settlement.

Plaintiff's Experts: None.

Defendant's Experts: None.

Comments: Reported by Jim Cinocca

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