An elderly Hollywood Hills man whose home was nearly destroyed after a dump truck crashed into in and ruptured a gas line causing an explosion was awarded more than $8 million dollars after jurors on the case found the insurance company failed to honor its contract. The jury found that Residence Mutual Insurance Co. acted with malice and fraud in failing to fulfill its $220,000 policy with Robert Christopher. He was 86 at the time of the 2008 accident and was considered under California law as more vulnerable than other members of the population.
It was discovered that the insurance company did everything possible to bury the case. Christopher and his partner, Patricia Freiling, were inside the home when a dump truck hauling dirt away from a construction site failed to negotiate a sharp turn. The truck, holding 15 tons of dirt, toppled over on its side and slammed into the residence. The impact severed the gas line and set off an explosion. The pair was trapped inside for almost 20 minutes until they were able to dislodge a door.
The case stated that Christopher tried to rebuild his home by trying to get compensation from the trucking company through its insurance while also collecting his homeowners policy. Residence Mutual held back payment and also charged Mr. Christopher for work done by an engineering firm and a storage company that packed up his belongings. The attorneys argued that the insurance company interfered with Mr. Christopher's lawsuit against the construction company and the city.
The jury awarded Mr. Christopher $8,062,850 combined economic, noneconomic and punitive damages. he also received $450,000 from the city in a settled lawsuit over the condition of the roadway.
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