Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Relying on a consent protective order that its discovery would stay confidential, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance produced thousands of documents in a Georgia state court fraud and racketeering suit against the company. Now, plaintiff Katherine A. Merritt’s lawyers want a judge to let them give those documents to the Georgia Insurance Commissioner. In a motion filed last month in the Fulton County, Ga., court, plaintiff’s lawyers Kathie G. McClure, of McClure & McClure, and Robert Altman, a sole practitioner, allege that the documents show State Farm has systematically failed to reveal, in a timely manner, the existence of umbrella policies in violation of state law. The insurance commissioner can sanction such conduct, McClure and Altman argue, adding “There is a strong public policy interest in providing the Commissioner of Insurance with the evidence that has been developed.” Merritt v. State Farm, No. 01VS023598-J (Fult. St. motion Oct. 21, 2002). Merritt’s suit claims that State Farm hid the existence of a $1 million umbrella policy from her. She had filed a claim against State Farm’s insured as a result of a traffic accident. She now alleges that she settled for far less than she would have had she known about the umbrella policy. She maintains that State Farm’s concealment was intentional and is common practice for the insurer. State Farm, represented by Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy attorneys E.A. Simpson Jr., Linda G. Birchall, C. Scott Greene and John C. Patton, admitted it had not disclosed the policy before settling with Merritt, but said it was an oversight, not intentional. Plaintiff’s lawyers contend that, out of 112 State Farm claim files, umbrella policies existed in 53 of the claims. But, in 60 percent of the claims, the policy was not revealed in a timely fashion. In five cases, they add, the umbrella policy was not disclosed prior to judgment or settlement. The State Farm lawyers responded last week to the motion, arguing that they relied on the protective order and now Merritt is trying “to get in through the back door what she cannot through the front: making State Farm documents public that she expressly agreed to keep private.” Merritt, they add, is trying to act as an investigative arm for the commissioner, but has no authority to act in that manner. Providing documents to the commissioner, they argue, would violate State Farm’s due process rights to adjudicate the lawfulness of any commission investigation.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.