Insurers are 5-0 on the day; fire claim by innocent wife is overturned on appeal
Roxanne Hicks did not finish high school; she has four kids and was pregnant with a fifth when the home she was moving in to burned to the ground. She was required to sign a loss form for the Auto Club, documenting the items lost. The record showed that she was particularly distressed at the time because years earlier she had lost several close family members in a house fire. The Trial Court found that her husband inflated the value of the personal goods destroyed in the fire, resulting in a false Proof of Loss. The Auto Club took advantage of the evidence of a falsified claim to deny payment of any claim on the fire, but the Court found that Roxanne was an innocent party to the misrepresntations and allowed her to recover for her property.On appeal, two of the three Court of Appeals Judges, Kirsten Kelly and Peter O'Connell, overturned the trial court's decision and rejected Roxanne's fire claim for her property. Judge Krause dissented, pointing out the law's deference to the trial judge's opportunity to judge credibility and the particular lack of sophistication and troubled circumstances of the parties, particularly Roxanne.