November 19, 2021

Trials are fundamental to the administration of justice.  On January 20, 2022, our client Mrs. Bingham will have her day in court as our law firm pursues full and fair compensation stemming from sinkhole damage while seeking punitive damages against her insurer, Tower Hill Preferred Insurance Company (hereinafter “Tower Hill”).  

For details about this watershed case, we encourage you to read our newsletter and blog.  After perusing these materials, if you have experienced a similar treatment by your insurer, please contact us at 813-258-4998.  We continue to collect evidence in Mrs. Bingham’s case and would be grateful to hear from you.  

Statutory Authority 

Florida law provides a civil remedy for insureds when their insurance companies engage in bad faith.  Under Florida Statute § 624.155, a person may bring a civil action against an insurer when such person is damaged by the insurer’s violation of statutory provisions, all designed to level the playing field between well-funded insurers and their insureds. 

If an insurance company doesn’t play by the rules, it can be ordered to pay substantial punitive damages as punishment.  Florida Statute § 624.155(5) states punitive damages can be awarded where the violations are so frequent as to indicate a “general business practice.”  When an insurance company intentionally denies or does not cover a valid residential insurance claim, the insurer may have breached its contract by not acting in good faith and fair dealing.  When insurance companies fail to uphold their duties to insureds, those customers have a right to file a claim based on breach of contract.  After the breach of the policy is established, the insured may then pursue punitive damages.

The Court examined the proffer of evidence made by our firm on behalf of Mrs. Bingham, pursuant to Section 768.72, Florida Statutes.  While the Court’s findings are procedural in nature, the Court’s Order established we have met the threshold of proof to now be able to present evidence seeking punitive damages.  A trial is set for January 20, 2022.  Ultimately, whether punitive damages are appropriate will be decided by a jury.

“Punitive damages are intended to express society’s collective outrage for the insurer’s misconduct and deter similar egregious behavior in the future by punishing the defendant,” notes Ted Corless.  “In this case, the Court granted Mrs. Bingham the required permission to seek punitive damages against Tower Hill.  We can show Tower Hill treated 50 additional insureds in the same manner as Mrs. Bingham.”    

Money Talks

Punitive damages may be significantly more than out-of-pocket expenses or the principal as they are paid in excess of the insurance claim and are based upon the financial strength of the insurer.

When dealing with your insurance company, keep an eye out for bad faith practices and document any actions or inactions made by your insurer and its representatives, so that they may be held responsible for their actions later on.

The underpinnings of a bad faith case with teeth usually include actions by the insurance company that demonstrate they are acting in the best interests of their own pocketbook, and not in the best interests of its insureds. 

Justice for Mrs. Bingham 

In an active case styled Bingham v. Tower Hill Preferred Insurance Company, in Pasco County, Florida, our firm has a pending bad faith case with punitive damages against Tower Hill.  

As more fully described in the Complaint, our client accuses Tower Hill of engaging in a general business practice to leverage a class of insureds, and not just one family.  With regard to the sinkhole damage claim in Bingham, our firm’s investigation revealed a general business practice of prohibited and unlawful conduct in more than 50 other sinkhole claims.  If believed by a jury, this information would prove the insurer’s conduct was more than just a single act by a rogue claims adjuster. 

Tower Hill disputes these accusations, as is described in their Answer.  Tower Hill alleges their conduct was within the standard of care it owed to its insureds.  It also claims much of the evidence means something else, and not what is alleged in Mrs. Bingham’s Complaint. 

We have asserted that Tower Hill’s conduct was not an anomaly in Mrs. Bingham’s case but instead a consistent bad faith handling of sinkhole damage claims that was a “general business practice.”  If the jury believes both the theory described and the evidence supporting it,  the door may swing open for a verdict worth millions.  Conversely, the jury could reject her theories, and instead find for Tower Hill.

We never want another insured to experience the type of egregious, unlawful, and prohibited behavior we believe Tower Hill engaged in against Mrs. Bingham.  To find out if you or your current lawyer can pursue punitive damages for an insurance claim, call our experienced Florida insurance claim attorneys at 813-258-4998.

About Corless Barfield Trial Group

Our law firm has helped hundreds of insureds recover more than $500 million in compensation for insurance losses.  The greater the complexity of the case, the more frequent collaboration and sharing of resources is required.  We are retained by other law firms that seek expertise in cases that compel punitive damages.  Call 813-258-4998 for a free consultation.  

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