$5.6M Verdict Awarded After Ga. Company Denies Claim

A DeKalb County, Ga. Superior Court jury has returned a $5.6 million judgment in Decatur, Ga. against Atlanta Casualty Co. for bad-faith practices in a lawsuit involving an 86-year-old woman who had automobile insurance with them.

Dimple Thomas, now 86, collided with another vehicle when making a left turn in November 1992. An occupant of the other vehicle sued Atlanta Casualty and got a $60,000 judgment, which the company refused to pay and then sued Thomas claiming that it didn’t have to pay her claim because it had not been notified of the accident.

In court, it was shown that on March 18, 1996, the company signed a certified letter giving them notice of the accident.

“The company did not provide defense and did not pay judgment of $60,000,” Jay Sadd, one of two attorneys who handled the case for Thomas, said.

“It sort of says it all when an insurance company not only denies coverage to an elderly woman after she had paid her premiums to them for several years, and then goes on to rub salt in the wound by filing suit against her,” Sadd said.

“Insurance companies should never be allowed the opportunity to deny coverage to those who need it most,” explained Rob Benfield, co-counsel with Sadd. “We think the treatment of Ms. Thomas exemplified everything that is wrong with corporations that place their profits over their duties to protect those that trust them.”

Thomas worked as a housekeeper at a hotel for 27 years. She used her life savings to buy a house in Decatur, where she lived alone until 1999 when her granddaughter began taking care of her.