There was an interesting verdict reported in the Palm Beach Post newspaper. A Palm Beach County jury found against Geico in a bad faith action, purportedly finding it failed to cooperate with the Plaintiff’s counsel in obtaining information from the insured regarding the insured’s assets at the time it extended to settle the claims against its insured for the $100,000 liability coverage limits of its policy. We only assume the evidence at trial was sufficient to establish that the Plaintiff would have accepted the limits if there were minimal, or no significant, personal assets of the insured.

It appears that Geico’s insured, James Harvey, was sued by claimant Tracy Potts, following a 2006 Palm Beach County vehicular accident that resulted in her husband’s death. Geico extended an offer of its $100,000.00 liability coverage limit to Mrs. Potts within days of the accident. However, the Geico adjuster, when requested by Potts’ attorney to assist in securing information of the insured, Harvey’s, personal assets by conducting an interview with him, refused to cooperate in allowing the interview.

As a result, claimant declined the limited $100,000 offer, and proceeded in litigation to trial. At trial in the underlying case, the jury awarded the claimant $8.5 million against Harvey, also finding him solely liable for Potts’ death by ignoring a flashing red light and pulling his Hummer into the path of the late Mr. Potts’ motorcycle. With post-judgment interest, the current value of the verdict for which Geico will be liable due to its bad faith is $9.6 million.

-Lloyd Heilbrunn, Esq.