A federal jury in South Carolina has awarded $14.5 million in damages to a South Carolina printing company against The Hartford insurance company in a case where the insurer believed a claim for a major fire loss in 2008 was arson.
In March 2008, investigators said someone sprinkled fuel to set 11 different fires in the building of Genesis Press. The fires damaged several printing presses, computer drives and other equipment. Two weeks earlier, the business had also been vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti, according to testimony at the trial.
The Hartford stopped paying on the $7 million claim after it became suspicious and alleged that the owners of Genesis Press enlisted the aid of an alcoholic family member to perform “surgical strikes” on the presses and inflict damage to computer drives to make the arson appear to be a crime of passion.
The owners– Larry, Bruce and Michael Kudeviz– said Hartford’s investigators failed to adequately pursue other leads in the case, including one involving a former disgruntled employee.
After Genesis Press sued The Hartford for bad faith, The Hartford filed a counterclaim seeking to recover $2 million paid out before denying the insurance claim.
The Greenville County circuit court jury last Thursday found that The Hartford was wrong to deny the printing company’s claim.
The Hartford said it plans to appeal. “We are disappointed in the jury’s verdict, and we plan to appeal,” the company said in a statement.
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