After a heated battle with State Farm Insurance Agency, the Oklahoma City-based Buxton Law Group has triumphed in its recent Bad Faith Insurance trial, returning a $700,000 verdict for their wronged client.
Attorney Jim Buxton recounts the case, stating he knew exactly how difficult it would be from the beginning:
“Considering it was State Farm, coupled with the complete arrogance of Counsel and the corporate representative, we knew it was going to be a good old-fashioned rumble.”
Buxton’s client was riding his motorcycle on I-40 in rush hour traffic when he was cut off by a driver that he says left the scene. He spent 8 days in the hospital for treatment of his injuries and had about $70K worth of medical procedures. Clearly, his insurance company should pay for his medical bills.
However, State Farm informed the client that they had investigated the claim and chose to deny his benefits. The insurance company stated that since the client had been drinking earlier in the evening, the accident was his fault.
Prior to the accident, the client had been drinking at a bar where he had two beers and a shot of whiskey. The client had been charged with DUI, which was later dismissed by attorney Billy Coyle. After the DUI charge was dropped, State Farm still refused to pay, giving more excuses as to why the client was at fault-but the State Farm representative never actually spoke to the client to hear what really happened.
Jim Buxton recalls the client’s frustration in the case: “At first, State Farm was prepared to treat us like they had treated our client. Their lawyers ignored our emails, letters, and calls. It was clear they weren’t taking this case seriously.”
The State Farm expert said at the end of the day, it did not matter how badly the company had treated the client; he was more at fault for the accident since he had been drinking, and State Farm did not have to pay.
Jim Buxton knew the client’s only chance at justice was to tell his story in front of a jury. The case went to trial, where the client admitted he had consumed a legal amount of alcohol prior to the accident. Six State Farm claim handlers were called to testify, and after questioning, their arguments quickly fell apart.
Attorney Billy Coyle called the client to the stand, where they reenacted the accident, proving once and for all that there was no way the biker could have caused the crash. In his closing argument, Jim Buxton stressed the unfair practice of taking insurance premiums for 30 years and then denying a legitimate claim, noting the injustice of insurance companies taking your money with no intent of fulfilling their end of the bargain.
After an hour of deliberations, the jury found in favor of the Buxton Law Group. The client was awarded $350,000 in actual and $350,000 in punitive damages.
Jim Buxton said he knew the case could be won if the jury heard the story from the client himself.
“We developed a bond with our clients, and it was apparent from the moment we walked into court that we were there to get some justice for our friends.”