“Bad Faith Delay” Trial Ends in Defense Verdict
San Francisco Managing Partner John Brydon obtained a 12-0 defense verdict in a Napa County bad faith trial. Plaintiff Brenda Woods and her husband Carlos Rodriguez sued Mid-Century (a Farmers Company) over alleged delay in paying underinsured motorist policy benefits. San Francisco attorney Stephen Purtill claimed that Mid-Century should have immediately tendered the full amount of its remaining $150,000 policy limits after the insureds settled for $100,000 against the adverse driver in a 2012 rear-end accident in Napa. Mid-Century initially offered $10,000 new money, raised the offer to $20,000 but felt the need for cervical surgery was not clear, and required more substantiation. A little more than 6 months after the claim was perfected and shortly after getting confirmation that Ms. Woods had scheduled an artificial disc replacement surgery, Mid Century offered its policy limits. The jury deliberated for 45 minutes, returning a complete defense verdict. Pretrial demand was $3.5 million, with indications during trial of something around $1 million. Defendant served statutory pre-trial offers of $100,000 and $5,000 for Ms. Woods and her husband, respectively. Farmers successfully recovered in excess of $66,000 in expert fees and other costs.