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Insurer Faulted for Firing Adjuster Over Quake Claims
Kermith Sonnierwas also awarded $1.46 million in compensatory damages after jurors found Farmer's supervisors unfairly fired him for resisting Farmers directives to reduce loss estimates on quake-damaged homes, Sonnier's attorney Steven Ball said.
"Farmers argued that Mr. Sonnier was let go because the work was running out," Ball said in a statement. "But the evidence showed Farmers, to this day, has kept every other adjuster who didn't complain about their orders from Farmers."
Officials with Farmers could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sonnier worked as a commercial claims adjuster for Farmers from January 1994 to August 1997 and handled some of the largest quake claims, including apartment complexes and condominiums, according to Ball.
But as payouts mounted, Ball said the insurance Farmers officials started to put pressure on its adjusters to lower estimates of losses.
In one instance, a loss first estimated at $20 million was lowered to less than $10 million, Ball said
Sonnier was fired for urging that a loss estimate at a condominium complex, where asbestos was found, be reduced, Ball said.
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