Insurance company lies to a farmer and then stops his benefits
Farmer bought disability insurance from national insurance in the 1970's and paid premiums faithfully. The farmer became disabled and received disability benefits for 2 years. After 2 years, the insurance company flew an adjuster from Chicago to Conway to try to get the farmer to "Sell" the policy back to the company. The adjuster told the farmer that he would not receive any more benefits because of language requiring him to be "house confined" in order to receive benefits for more than 24 months. The company then stopped the benefits. Farmer sued the insurance company based upon a South Carolina Supreme Court decision involving the same company wherein the Court had held that benefits could not be stopped. In litigation against the same company for another client, Mr. Derrick flew to Chicago to take depositions at the insurance company's home office and found a document in which the in-house attorney had informed the adjuster of the South Carolina law 3 days before he flew to Conway. The actual damages were relatively small, approximately $39,000 because the disability benefits were only $300 per month. However, armed with proof that the company knew the law and lied to the farmer, Mr. Derrick sought punitive damages to punish the insurance company. The company refused to settle for the same amount as the previous client, $330,000 and only offered $200,000 before trial. The case was tried in Horry County and a jury awarded $539,000.