NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Bentham IMF announced today the completion of its investment in State Farm Fire & Casualty Company v. Radcliff, its first U.S. investment. The win continues the strong track record of Bentham's Australian parent company, which is the most successful commercial litigation finance company in the world. Bentham's funding helped plaintiffs by adding a top appellate lawyer to the successful trial team that battled State Farm in the Indiana state courts for more than five years. The funding also provided working capital to help Mr. Radcliff grow a new business after a jury found that his old business was decimated by State Farm's conduct.
In July 2011, after a six week trial, the jury found that State Farm had defamed Joseph Martin Radcliff and Coastal Property Management LLC. The jury awarded Mr. Radcliff and CPM $14.5 million, the biggest defamation award in Indiana history and one of the largest ever in the U.S. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment in its entirety in a lengthy 61-page decision, and issued its own press release announcing its decision. State Farm sought review by the Supreme Court of Indiana, which was promptly denied. Having exhausted its remedies this week, State Farm at long last was forced to pay plaintiffs over $17.25 million, with interest, according to Will Riley of Price Waicukauski & Riley, the lead trial lawyer who secured plaintiffs' historic victory.
"In this case, Bentham's investment did exactly what litigation finance is supposed to do: provided access to justice by helping the little guy fight a major corporation in scorched earth litigation. Joe Radcliff and CPM were able to hire the best appellate lawyer in Indiana, Julia Blackwell Gelinas, to fight State Farm, as well as secure capital to grow his new business," said Ralph Sutton, Bentham's chief investment officer. Charlie Gollow, Bentham's Managing Director added: "Bentham very carefully analyzes all cases it considers for funding. That process has yielded us the best track record of any funder in the world. This case made sense to us from the beginning."
About the Case
In 2006, a large hailstorm caused extensive damage to central Indiana. Joseph Radcliff started a contracting business to help homeowners repair storm damage to their roofs and fight denials of insurance coverage. State Farm denied many of its policyholders' claims after the storm, though other insurance companies paid similar claims. The Indiana Department of Insurance received hundreds of complaints about State Farm's conduct and launched a "Market Practices Examination" into the insurer's compliance with its insurance contracts and state laws. This review lead to the reopening of 30,000 claims and a six-figure fine paid by State Farm.
State Farm then provided incomplete information to the authorities, leading to Mr. Radcliff's arrest at gunpoint on 14 felony counts of insurance fraud. State Farm also sued Mr. Radcliff and CPM for civil fraud and racketeering. But those criminal charges against Mr. Radcliff were dismissed within nine months, after prosecutors discovered that State Farm had not provided all relevant information. In the civil suit, Mr. Radcliff counterclaimed against the insurance giant for defamation. After the jury heard the testimony of more than 40 witnesses, it unanimously found that plaintiffs had been defamed and awarded plaintiffs $14.5 million. State Farm's version of the facts and the law were ultimately rejected by the jury, the trial judge, the Court of Appeals and the Indiana Supreme Court.
About Bentham IMF
Bentham IMF provides access to justice for companies that would otherwise have difficulty funding large, protracted and expensive commercial disputes against much larger defendants. Bentham adheres to its own disciplined, highly selective "Australian funding model," which enjoys a better than 90% success rate. Bentham has reviewed thousands of commercial cases in the past dozen years and invested in over 180. Its 150 completed cases have generated over $1.3 billion in damages or settlement awards for its clients. The American Lawyer magazine recently recognized the company among the Top 50 Law Innovators in September 2013. Bentham IMF recently opened its second U.S. office, in Los Angeles, California. For more information, please visit www.benthamimf.com.
SOURCE Bentham IMF