WOODWARD, Okla. – A Woodward County judge awarded three plaintiffs, whose homes were damaged during a recent tornado, a massive settlement against Farmers and Foremost Insurance companies.
After their homes were damaged in the Woodward tornado two years ago, the residents filed the lawsuit, claiming Farmers acted in bad faith.
They say the company did not give them the money they were entitled to under their policies.
Linda Louthan said, “Blatant disregard for their policy holders. They’re not there to carry you through.”
Jeff Marr, the plaintiff’s attorney, said, “Greed and corporate arrogance and indifference and that’s what this was.”
Sterling Parks said, “They’re there for one reason is to make money and they’re not worried about their policy holders.”
Parks had Farmers Insurance when the storm hit but was forced to take out a second mortgage to fix his tornado damaged home.
Louthan had to move into a rent house and has been paying both rent and mortgage.
And Mary Sharpe couldn’t afford to move.
They’ve stayed in their damaged home and patched it as they could.
Sharpe said, “Our home was cracking, it still is cracking. Our electricity is going out. I smell burning wires at times.”
In all, the three plaintiffs were awarded $15 million last week.
The judge consolidated the three cases and awarded them a default judgement against Farmers.
He then awarded each plaintiff $2 million in actual damages and $3 million in punitive damages.
Linda Louthan said, “We were stunned, but we were excited.”
Mary Sharpe said, “We were just like what does that mean? Is he joking?”
Sterling Parks said, “I didn’t know what to think.”
Jeff Marr, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said, “These people are going to have brand new homes and they’re multimillionaires now, or will be, because of the way they were treated.”
According to the court transcript, the judge found Farmers guilty of “oppression, fraud, actual and presumed malice, and that they acted with complete indifference to its duty to treat the plaintiffs fairly.”
Louthan said, “We’re satisfied with the verdict, but is it good enough punishment for them? No.”
All of these tornado victims say if and when they get their millions, it won’t change who they are.
Sharpe said, “I don’t see our lives changing other than the fact that we’re going to have our home built. I’ll be able to take care of my family. And maybe I can retire.”
Marr is convinced this wasn’t an isolated situation with Farmers Insurance.
Marr said, “No change, no accountability, no apology, no nothing. So we’ll take the verdict as our apology.”
In fact, he’s convinced Farmers Insurance acted the same way after the tornado in Moore last year and he is already representing some of the victims from that storm.
Luis Sahagun, director of media relations for Farmers Insurance, sent us this statement in response to the verdict.
“We are reviewing the court’s decision and evaluating our options.”