VERDEN, Okla. – A real David and Goliath story between a rural Grady County farmer and an insurance agency has finally reached its conclusion.
Nearly five years after rancher Bryan Linn’s battle began, a Grady County jury awarded him more than $1.5 million. But Linn said the money won’t bring back the cattle business he lost in the process, along with his credit and reputation.
“We were a fairly large operation,” Linn said. “We would have 4,000-5,000 head (of cattle) on hand at any given time.”
He says the trouble started in June 2013. An independent field inspector discovered he was missing cattle.
“It was at least 550 that were stolen and it was just flat obvious,” said Linn, adding the loss was about $600,000.
An investigation was started and Linn filed a claim with his insurance company, Oklahoma Farm Bureau Insurance Company.
“$500,000, $600,000 on a $4 million policy really isn’t — I mean — it’s just a small percentage of what I was paying insurance for.”
Linn said he had no reason not to trust the company. He’d used them since he was 17-years-old. By 2013, he says he was paying the Oklahoma City-based company a $20,000-a-year premium. But Linn said Oklahoma Farm Bureau didn’t have his back when he needed it.
“We asked the lady from Farm Bureau who had been assigned to the claim if she would sit down with us so we could help explain things,” Linn recalled, “and she basically told us that was not how it was done so we were not allowed any way to help her understand our claim.”
He said the representative didn’t visit his ranch until roughly six months after the claim was filed. Then, Linn says, the company never told him if it would accept his claim.
Linn said he found out the company had even lied to law enforcement, effectively ending the investigation before it was complete.
“It felt like stall tactics to us and simply, that’s just what it was,” Linn said, as the months passed and without money to replace the stolen cattle, his business — his livelihood — was dying.
“My business was being hurt. Every month I could feel the pain. I needed that claim paid.”
Linn estimates his loss of cattle and his operation was close to $2.5 million.
Linn decided to sue Oklahoma Farm Bureau in February of 2014, but it still took four years for the case to get to trial.
“My business died,” he said. “It was a slow, agonizing death. By November 2016, I was basically on the side of the road. I had no other source of income. That was my only source of income.”
However, last week his case finally went before a jury, which sided with Linn and awarded him more than $1.5 million, according to court documents.
In those records, Oklahoma Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company said “there was no physical or tangible evidence of the theft.”
Attempts to reach Oklahoma Farm Bureau Insurance for comment were not returned.
“I had faith that we would prevail because I knew the bad things that they’d done and I hoped surely the jury would see that,” Linn said, “and at the end of the day, they did.”
In talking with Linn, it’s clear he doesn’t care for unnecessary laws. But he does want to see more regulation on insurance companies to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. And most of all, he wants peace after the whole process nearly destroyed him.
“I hope it helps somebody else, somebody else who`s dealing with it,” Linn said, choking back tears.
“You`ve just got to be able to stand up to them.”