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Riverside County Superior Court

In this matter, a drilling company sued their insurer on a bad faith claim. The matter was resolved via jury in Riverside County, California.

The plaintiff, Palm Springs Pump, Inc., is a Palm Springs, California water well drilling company. On December 9, ________, the plaintiff’s drilling rig suffered a catastrophic failure of its industrial drilling rig when the rig collapsed in on itself. The drill rig is a large derrick mounted on a flatbed semi, and a substantial source of income for the plaintiff business. Thereafter, a claim was filed with the insurer Peerless Insurance.

The defendant insurer sent an expert to investigate. Months later, the defendant thereafter began issuing small payments for costs relating to the catastrophic failure, but took six to seven months to acknowledge coverage of the rig itself, and nearly a year to pay the full amount owed under the policy. The plaintiff filed suit in Riverside County Superior Court for a bad faith claim against Peerless Insurance Company, a Liberty Mutual Company. The plaintiff asserted that the delay in covering the rig itself resulted in substantial financial losses to their business.

The defendant denied the accusation of bad faith. At trial, the insured asserted that the rig had been their big money-maker, and that most of their major business operations were halted by its loss. The defendant defended the delay in payment, asserting that it was necessary to in order to evaluate the cause of the catastrophic failure.After three weeks of trial, the jury deliberated for about two-and-a-half hours before returning a unanimous verdict for the plaintiff, concluding that Peerless Insurance unreasonably delayed payment of insurance benefits, resulting in the repair delay. The jury awarded over $1.5 million in economic damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages.

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