Sixth Circuit tells State Farm "not so fast.." in denying fire benefts because of lack of disclosure
Richard Rose's home burned down. The cause of the fire was undetermined and arson and intentional ignition could not be proved. Nevertheless, Rose was the only one home, at the time, leaving his insurer with heightened suspicion. State Farm set out upon a thorough investigation that included subjecting Rose to a mandatory "sworn, recorded statement under oath." In response to general questions about his financial status, Rose did not disclose that he had pending tax liens and judgments. On this basis, State Farm alleged that he was entitled to no insurance recovery because he was guilty of material misrepresentations that voided his coverage. The trial judge agreed and granted summary disposition in favor of State Farm.
The Sixth Circuit reversed. It held that the allegations by State Farm created a question of fact with regard to whether Rose had mis-led State Farm's investigators. After hearing all of the evidence, a jury must decide whether he intentionally made a material misrepresentation that should void his coverage. After all, contrary to the belief of many Republican judges who bow to the will of their insurer-buddies, people do still enjoy the Constitutional right to a jury trial by their peers.