What started as a classic homeowners claim for damage from a fallen tree limb onto the roof of their cabin turned into a ten year saga when the homeowner and his nephew, a public adjuster, decided to enhance the damages. The neighbor, whose tree limb had caused the damage, observed men on the roof of the cabin repeatedly smashing the roof with the limb. Not wanting to be responsible for this additional damage, he videotaped the men at work. With the videotape in hand the homeowners insurer filed a declaratory judgment action denying coverage and making a claim under the New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act.
After two jury verdicts finding by a preponderance of the evidence that fraud was committed and appeals that included two trips to the appellate division and one to the Supreme Court, the final decision is in… the homeowners owe their insurer $175,000. This reflects treble damages of the insurer’s investigation expenses, costs of suit, and attorneys’ fees as determined to be reasonable by the judge following the jury verdict of fraud.
See Liberty Mutual Insurance Company v. Land at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a6126-06.pdf
For more information contact Denise Ricci at firstname.lastname@example.org.