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February 26, 2013

Balch & Bingham Lands $4.7 Million Victory Against Evanston Insurance Company

Balch & Bingham today announced a $4.71 million verdict on behalf of a corporate client against Evanston Insurance Company. Litigation partners, R. Bruce Barze, Jr. and M. Todd Lowther, represented the client against Evanston.

The client bought a products liability insurance policy from Evanston, paying a premium of more than $660,000 for $1 million of coverage. Thereafter, the client was sued in a wrongful death lawsuit in Ohio arising out of an accident that occurred during the policy period. Evanston assumed charge of investigation, defense and settlement of the wrongful death lawsuit two years into the litigation, replaced the policyholder's chosen attorney over the insured's objections and unsuccessfully attempted to defend the case at trial rather than settling. After an Ohio jury returned a $6 million dollar verdict against the policyholder in the underlying lawsuit, a lawsuit was brought against Evanston alleging breach of contract, statutory bad faith failure to pay and bad faith failure to settle. The lawsuit against Evanston was filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Tennessee. The case was originally tried in August 2010, in which the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Balch client for $2.09 million. Following an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the case was affirmed in part, on the award of approximately $92,000 for breach of contract and bad faith failure to pay, but reversed and remanded for a new trial on the bad faith failure to settle claim.

On Feb. 22, following a week-long trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Balch’s client for all damages sought, in the amount of $4,711,000.

Balch & Bingham attorneys have experience representing both insurers and commercial policyholders in a variety of coverage matters and risk management issues, ranging from coverage opinions and analyses to all types of coverage litigation. Our attorneys advise carriers and policyholders regarding insurance practices, coverage issues and risk allocation, and are experienced in preparing coverage opinions, reservation of rights analyses and legal claims involving these issues. This is the second favorable trial result by the Balch & Bingham insurance practice group in the last six months. In September 2012, litigation partners Spence Taylor and Todd Lowther obtained an $11.1 million verdict in favor of another policyholder client against Factory Mutual Insurance Company.

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