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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.

 

Insurer Faulted for Firing Adjuster Over Quake Claims
Wednesday, February 23, 2000


A Los Angeles Superior Court jury ordered Farmers Insurance to pay a former adjuster $9 million in punitive damages Tuesday after charging the company fired him for refusing to underpay claims following the 1994 Northridge earthquake, his attorney said.

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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