A U.S. Marine captain serving his third tour of duty in Iraq has been awarded $3.6 million by a San Diego jury after his insurance company unreasonably denied his claim for water damage to his Oceanside, Calif., home, according to Shernoff Bidart Darras Echeverria, Lawyers for Insurance Policyholders.
According to SBDE, in investigating John Colombero’s claim, the jury found insurer USAA overlooked key witnesses, ignored evidenc, and stalled for more than two years. When the investigators finally drafted their report, a copy was sent for approval to USAA, before being formally submitted.
Colombero’s dispute arose in 2004 after a pipe burst during construction on Colombero’s home, causing approximately $74,000 in damages, SBDE said. USAA is one of the nation’s largest insurers of active and retired military personnel. During trial, SBDE introduced evidence showing USAA had used the same two experts more than 700 times to reject similar claims.
More than 97 percent of the $3.6 million award was comprised of punitive damages, designed to punish USAA for malice, oppression and fraudulent conduct, SBDE said.
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