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The "Farmers Insurance News-Alert" website is dedicated to providing the consumer and general public with detailed information concerning the Farmers Insurance Group. This includes fraud reports, consumer complaints, lawsuit's and other legal actions taken against this company. All information contained herein is for educational purposes only. Original sources, when known are sited.

 

PAIR DENIED FAIR INSURANCE TRIAL, COURT SAYS


Published on Wednesday, June 23, 1993
1993 The Arizona Republic

Byline: By Brent Whiting, The Arizona Republic


A Phoenix couple who sued Farmers Insurance Co. for bad-faith dealings were denied a fair trial when four Farmers policyholders were allowed on the eight-member jury, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Despite a professed ability by the four to be fair in deciding the case, ''they know their verdict could mean money out of their pockets,'' the court said in a 3-0 opinion.

The ruling stems from a December 1988 verdict in which jurors refused to award damages to Ynez and Mary Lopez, who had sued Farmers for allegedly refusing to engage in fair dealings to repair their wrecked car.

''Only naivete would lead us to believe that jurors are not astute enough to factor a rate increase into their decision,'' Judge William Garbarino wrote for the Court of Appeals in ordering a new trial.

''Money can be a compelling force in the decision-making process. Fairness alone dictates that those with a direct interest in the outcome should be excluded from the jury.''

The court also ruled that Judge Daniel Nastro of Maricopa County Superior Court further erred by allowing lawyers for Farmers to strike two minority members from the jury without requiring a race-neutral explanation for the decision.

The decision applied previous rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court that lawyers must offer racially neutral explanations for using ''peremptory strikes'' to exclude minorities from criminal and civil juries.

Calvin Thur, a Scottsdale lawyer for the Lopezes, said the ruling came as no surprise. He said it was obvious the Farmers policyholders should have been excluded.

Neal Thomas, a Phoenix lawyer for Farmers, said there has been no decision whether to appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.

 

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