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Contractor wins $14.5M judgment against State Farm

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A Hamilton County jury has awarded a local contractor $14.5 million in his prolonged legal battle with State Farm Insurance following a 2006 hailstorm that caused severe damage in central Indiana.

Joseph Radcliff, owner of CPM Construction of Indiana in Fishers, received the verdict on Wednesday after he countersued the Bloomington, Ill.-based insurer in March 2009.

The countersuit responded to an October 2008 complaint from State Farm claiming Radcliff committed fraud to obtain funds from the insurer by inflicting intentional damage to roofs of its clients to simulate hail and wind damage.

State Farm said Radcliff committed fraud on at least 10 occasions by intentionally damaging property in Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers and Noblesville.

According to a former CPM employee, Radcliff commonly told workers that “the only way to make any money is to create your own damage,” State Farm’s complaint said.

Through its investigation, State Farm provided information about Radcliff to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which forwarded it to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office brought 14 felony counts against him in September 2008, which were later dropped.

Radcliff countersued, charging that State Farm slandered and defamed him with its allegations. He further said the former employee who made the damaging comments to State Farm did so because he was terminated for non-performance.

Radcliff was represented by local attorneys Will Riley of Price Waicukauski & Riley LLC and J. Mark McKinzie of Riley Bennett & Egloff LLP.

Riley said State Farm’s acts of defamation destroyed the construction company, but the favorable jury verdict “shows that he’s been vindicated.”

In a written statement, State Farm said it is disappointed in the outcome of the trial.

“We put on [the stand] multiple adjusters, engineers and witnesses in an effort to establish our case,” the company said. “We believed the evidence supported the actions we took and the causes of action we filed. State Farm will weigh its options and make its decision on where to go from here in the near future.”

The trial lasted about six weeks. A total of roughly 40 witnesses were called to testify, Riley said.

The April 2006 hailstorm resulted in $1.5 billion in catastrophic insurance claims.

 

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  • God spared me
    Nice comment Surprised. You must work for the bad neighbor. I just hope you get to experience the same misery that Mr. Radcliff endured by these crooks. My Fishers house was damaged by that hailstorm and God spared half of my roof for me and my family... according to State Farm. My roof leaked due to the damage. All my neighbors had their roofs replaced. I canceled them immediately and that worthless agent on Allisonville Road. Keep doing business with them and you will find out their true colors. I hope the tangos targets their management.
  • Insurance
    There are always two sides to every story. It is funny how they failed to mention all of Mr Radcliff's prior criminal records and past arrests and the way he can't be a contractor in 5 other states. His company was costal property management. Lots of coastal property in Indiana huh?? They also failed to mention how he was convicted in the commission of Federal RICO violations. Stuff like this happening all over the nation is the reason why all of our premiums continue to rise. So they paid you - where does that money come from?
    • Not A Good Neighbor
      I want to thank everyone who supported me through the past 4 years. It’s a story that sounds like a movie script. In 2006, a huge hailstorm damaged hundreds of homes in Indiana. State Farm, not surprisingly, denied many of the claims. After complaints to the Indiana Department of Insurance led it to begin an investigation, State Farm accused a myself and my company of intentionally damaging roofs in order to collect insurance.

      What does State Farm do? Accuse the accuser of fraud to protect its brand. After all, it has to protect it’s clients from fraudulent claims, right? State Farm sent information to the Indianapolis Police Department which led to felony charges being filed against me and CPM Construction. Funny enough not any evidence for my engineers, other contractors that inspected the property before my company, and yes the changed engineering reports that state farm requested to be done. the first ones said not hail damages as they all did at this time in indy but requested them to be changed and now they say " Man Made Damages" funny how the notes were redacted that said to make changes and how the first engineering reports were with held. Those charges were quickly dropped, but the damage to my business and reputation had been done.

      Thanks to the work of Mark Mikensey, Joe Williams, Will Riley and other attorneys at both Price, Waicukauski & Riley, LLC and Riley, Bennett and Egloff, I was vindicated when a jury awarded me $14.5 million for defamation. That’s right, the claim that my company and myself had committed fraud were FALSE. I had never committed fraud at all but was simply a hard-working contractor swept up in State Farm’s campaign to increase it’s profit margins and create another “example” of how “fraudulent” claims are destroying businesses.

      So next time you hear an insurance company talking about how it works hard to avoid “frivolous claims” and “fights fraud.” Think of me " Joe Radcliff "
    • Turnabout is fair play
      State Farm refused to pay numerous claims in Fishers after the 2006 hailstorms. Folks on both sides of us were denied by SF while we got a new roof with no issues. About 80% of our subdivision had work done but no one I spoke to with SF as their insurer received any relief. Our one neighbor paid almost $7k out of pocket to fix the roof herself so she could sell her property. Glad to hear that karma still reigns supreme!
    • OJ was "innocent" too
      This life happens in a blink and what we do in the "dash" on our headstones will dictate what happens in the afterlife. Others simply hold themselves to a greater level of integrity. Those of us who believe in doing what is right will continue to do what's right regardless of this outcome. Punishment for the wicked will eventually be dealt by a higher authority, whether they win or lose here.
    • NICB = Fraud
      Mr. Radcliff... thanks for standing tall. It is amazing that the NICB can pretend like they have investigation/enforcement powers when all they actually do suck up to the insurers for cushy jobs. The NICB should be investigated for their role in "dime-spinning." We should all start a new campaign called "dime-dropping" that accuses the NICB for scheming against reputable businesses.
    • vindicated
      Only in the usa can a small business take on the largest insurance company and have a level playing field. Thanks to the jury who believed in me.
      • Me too
        A recent accident where the police sited the other driver 100% at fault was ruled by State Farm as my fault. When questioned they told me they would not meet me, discuss it with me, etc. and that to legit it would cost them more money. Their reason is a photo in a drivers manual which taken out of context did not match what is actually on the street. And to deny even meeting and discussing it is terrible.
      • State Farm at it again...or never stopped
        I'm dealing with State Farm at this very moment and they are not very helpful at all. The adjuster won't return phone calls, haven't heard from my agent once during my ordeal. Once this is all over i'm changing, if my agent can't come down from his Westfield neighborhood to help a customer then i'll give someone else my commission.
      • Insurance Companies Suck
        I am just a simple homeowner and have had trouble with insurance companies on very legit claims. They have all the politicians in their pockets. I hope this shows them that they cannot kill the little guy, but I doubt it.
      • Routine for State Farm
        Thanks Joe on behalf of the little guy! State Farm is known for trying to not pay claims or to pay significantly lower than estimates! They did it to me and it ended up costing me personally lots of money out of pocket. Their attitude was "then sue us" knowing that most people don't want to be bothered or have the $ to fund a protracted deal- they suck.
      • State Farm
        Like a bad neighbor, State Farm is there to go after the little guy hoping to break him. Good for you Joe the roofer!

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