Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Anger and outrage

Legal Times reports on a terrible example of how far insurance companies will go to screw plaintiffs (registration required). A hotel employee molested a young girl when her family vacationed in the US Virgin Islands. Police are notified, investigation ensues, other victims are discovered, and hotel employee gets convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.

Family sues, and based on the above it sounds like an open and shut, slam dunk, show me the money, ginormous settlement.

The insurance company assumes an aggressive posture, deposing the family, their business associates, and (because they are UK citizens) their immigration records. Family eventually gets tired of the BS, and goes to court to force an end to the abusive discovery practice. The trial court, and the 4th Circuit agree that the defense has been "harassing" the plaintiffs through discovery.

So the insurance company turns everything over to the Feds, who begin to investigate the family for money laundering and immigration violations.

The Feds eventually drop everything, but not until the family ponied up $400k to defend the criminal and/or immigration matters. The original case "settled," but the defendants never paid the money, prompting additional intervention by the court, resulting in yet another appeal, and further delay. The family has filed a second suit alleging malicious prosecution by aggressive discovery and turning materials over to prosecutors, and unlike the original suit this one is no slam dunk. I'd go so far as to say it is a long shot.

I am a criminal defense attorney, and people ask me all the time how I am able to sleep. For the record, I sleep just fine, on my right side, with my Beloved's arm wrapped around me. After reading this article, though, I have to wonder how these people - insurance defense attorneys whose only goal is to save a faceless company some money - can sleep.