Brooks Law Office Wins Case Against State Farm

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Brooks Law Office recently won a breach of contract and insurance bad faith case against State Farm that was taken all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Attorney Eugene C. Brooks

Attorney Eugene C. Brooks

Under Georgia law, any ambiguity in the policy written by State Farm had to be interpreted in favor of our client, the policy holder.

Attorney Eugene C. Brooks, founder of the Brooks Law Office, announced the Georgia Supreme Court has refused to hear State Farm’s appeal of a 2014 verdict in a breach of contract and insurance bad faith case (Case No. STCV1200617 filed in the State Court of Chatham County) against State Farm. According to court documents, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment based on the verdict entered by the trial court. The Georgia Supreme Court’s refusal to consider the State Farm petition to further appeal the jury verdict entered in favor of one of its insureds is good news for Brooks’ client, since the judgement now becomes collectible. Brooks also served as the client’s appellate lawyer.

Court documents state that Brooks’ client (plaintiff) owned a Honda Accord that she had insured under a State Farm policy in 2011. That year, a vandal broke her windows, flattened her tires and scratched her paint. Court documents further state that the plaintiff selected Hernandez Collision Center (HCC) to repair her car (under Georgia law, a person can choose the repair shop of their choice), but State Farm refused to pay for towing costs, full car rental and full costs of repair, all of which were covered by the policy.

According to court documents, State Farm’s insurance policy, form 9811B, was placed into evidence, and testimony was then given by numerous witnesses. State Farm’s estimators testified that the plaintiff’s car could be repaired in Savannah for $5,045. However, court documents state that HCC’s repair estimate was $9,589, over $4,000 more than the State Farm estimate. Shop managers from HCC appeared and testified at the trial.

“The evidence showed that State Farm applied a different method of determining its payment obligations than those described in the policy,” said Brooks. “State Farm applied an internal method based on its determination of what was a ‘competitive’ rate based on a survey that was not described in the policy. Under Georgia law, any ambiguity in the policy written by State Farm had to be interpreted in favor of our client, the policy holder.”

Court documents further state that State Farm’s refusal to pay full repair costs left the plaintiff owing HCC a balance of $4,297 for her car repairs, and that she paid $1,125 for her rental car. The jury returned a verdict favoring the plaintiff for all damages she sought, plus $5,000, the maximum penalty allowed under Georgia insurance bad faith statute. The jury also awarded her $30,000 in attorney fees.

State Farm appealed the jury verdict to the Georgia Court of Appeals on numerous issues, alleging that the trial court should have dismissed the case, had improperly instructed the jury, and had admitted testimony that State Farm believed to be unduly prejudicial. The Court of Appeals affirmed the verdict without opinion and State Farm then filed the petition to the Georgia Supreme Court that was denied, allowing the plaintiff to execute on the judgement in her favor.

About Eugene C. Brooks, Brooks Law Office
Eugene C. Brooks focuses his practice in areas of personal injury, wrongful death, toxic torts, negligence, property damage, on-the-job injuries and insurance bad faith.Practice areas of the Brooks Law Office include personal injury, pharmaceutical injury, chemical exposure injury, workers’ compensation, work-related injury, occupational disease and insurance litigation. For more information, please call (800) 296-7983, or visit http://www.brooks-law.com. The law office is located at 313 West York Street, Savannah, GA 31401.

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