Renters suffer mold damage; insurer mishandles claim. $100K. San Diego County.

Summary

Liberty Mutual denies claim, says damage was not caused by a specified peril.

The Case

  • Case Name: Berg v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.
  • Court and Case Number: San Diego County Superior Court / 37-2016-00044046-CU-IC-CTL
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, February 28, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, December 15, 2016
  • Type of Action: Insurance – Bad Faith, Claims Handling
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Eddie Sturgeon
  • Plaintiffs:
    Mike Berg
    Karen Doughty
  • Defendants:
    Liberty Insurance Corporation
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $100,000
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 9 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Motions for new trial, JNOV, and Offset denied by court. Pre-judgment interest, expert fees, costs, attorney fees awarded in the sum of $76,024.17

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    The Greenfield Law Firm by Kenneth N. Greenfield and Kate A. Evans, San Diego.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Selman Breitman LLP by Bridget Moorhead, San Diego.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Ian Spiszman, air quality testing, Glendale.

    Janice A. Ramsay, property insurance bad faith, Irvine.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiffs rented a house. They suffered damage to personal property from mold and moisture damage. The damage claim was initially denied by Liberty Mutual until plaintiff retained an attorney eight months later, when only $5,000 was paid by the insurer. The insurer was immediately sued for delay and failure to pay for the full loss.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the excessive moisture was from the leaking exhaust hose from the clothes dryer inside the house. This would have been a specified loss under the policy ("steam from within a household appliance").

    That defendant insurer acted in bad faith by denying the claim. 

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That the cause of excessive moisture in the home was improper drainage of water from the exterior. Such cause was excluded from coverage under the policy.  

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Over $100,000 in damaged clothing and other personal property.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $99,998
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $5,000

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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