$11m verdict against American Family Insurance Company

A Clay County, Missouri jury awarded an $11 million verdict for its client in a bad-faith lawsuit against American Family Insurance Co.

Attorneys Kirk and Jill Presley represented an Excelsior Springs man, Paul Skow. The four-day trial ended with the jury awarding $1 million in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages.

In August 2012, Skow had failed to yield and crashed into a Kansas City Area Transit Authority bus, injuring 14 passengers. His insurer decided to pay claims on a first-come, first-served basis, leaving two of the passengers with the most serious injuries empty-handed.

As a result, Skow reached an agreement with the two passengers for each to get $500,000, prompting American Family to pursue a declaratory judgment, and Skow to respond with the bad-faith counter-claim. American Family dismissed the declaratory judgment before the trial.

The verdict sends a message to insurance companies that they should more carefully handle cases with multiple claimants and that they should not overlook the financial interest of the insured, Presley said.

The case is American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. Skow, 13CY-CV10308. The case was covered by Missouri Lawyers Weekly; the article is available here. (Subscription required.)

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