December 2013 – Ben Heinz Obtains Defense Verdict in Insurance Breach of Contract Case

In December 2013, Ben Heinz, with the assistance of attorney Kirby Howard, obtained a defense verdict on a breach of contract claim against an insurance company. The plaintiff had purchased an insurance policy in May 2010 to cover her automobile. Within two weeks, the plaintiff reported that her vehicle had been stolen and burned. During its investigation, the insurance company determined that the plaintiff had made numerous misrepresentations when she applied for the policy, and then the insurance company decided to null and void the policy. The plaintiff sued on claims of breach of contract, fraud, bad faith failure to pay, bad faith failure to investigate, and outrage. Mr. Heinz first obtained summary judgment on the fraud, outrage, and both bad faith claims.

The breach of contract claim escaped summary judgment as the plaintiff claimed that she had not told the insurance agent any incorrect information and that the incorrect information in the computer application submitted by the agent came from the agent himself. At trial, Mr. Heinz proved that the plaintiff had misrepresented important information throughout the application process and in reporting her claim. Mr. Heinz further presented evidence that showed the insurance agent had only put information in the application that the plaintiff had provided. In addition, Mr. Heinz proved that the plaintiff had a financial motive for burning her own vehicle and that the fire department had concluded the plaintiff had participated in burning her own vehicle. Following a brief deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the insurance company.