St. Louis Record

Friday, September 20, 2019

Judge says vexatious refusal to pay claim against USAA Casualty can proceed despite $6,000 settlement offer

Lawsuits

By Carrie Bradon | Jul 27, 2019


ST. LOUIS – An insurance company sued over allegations of vexatious refusal to pay an injured driver's underinsured motorist claim was denied its motion for summary judgment on the claim.

Judge John A. Ross of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri ruled June 20 to deny USAA Casualty Insurance Co.'s motion for partial summary judgment in a case filed by Ross Dozier. Ross wrote that he found the case has a genuine dispute of material fact.

The ruling states Dozier was injured in a car accident with Julia Dolan and was covered under USAA's insurance policy at the time of the accident. The plaintiff settled the claim with Dolan's insurer for her policy limit of $25,000 and made a claim for underinsured motorist benefits under his USAA policy. The plaintiff allegedly incurred $12,000 in medical bills as well as $4,000 in lost wages. 

USAA offered to settle the plaintiff's underinsured motorist claim for $6,000. Dozier rejected this offer and filed his suit on Dec. 15, 2017, over allegations of breach of contract and vexatious refusal to pay. USAA sough summary judgment on the vexatious refusal claim.

USAA alleged that the plaintiff cannot show that it refused to pay him as it offered him $6,000. Dozier argued that whether the defendant’s offer meets the standard for a vexatious refusal to pay is a matter that a jury will have to decide. 

Ross agreed with the plaintiff’s conclusion and found that the plaintiff’s allegations that the defendant failed to pay should not be limited to cases when the insurer failed to pay at all, but rather can apply to when the insurer failed to pay the loss that the insured sought to recover.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri case number 4:17-CV-02889

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