Insurer settles state lawsuit for $16.5M

Michael W.
October 13, 2008
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A legal malpractice insurance carrier has agreed to pay $16.5 million to Indiana 's insurance department, settling a federal lawsuit stemming from the multi-million-dollar collapse of a health insurance trust.

Alabama-based ProNational Insurance Co. agreed to make the payment to settle a bad-faith and breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by the department four months ago.

ProNational was the malpractice insurer for Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Towe, an Indianapolis law firm
that represented the Indiana Construction Industry Trust, which provided health coverage to non-union construction workers before going bust in 2002.

Two years ago, a Marion County jury ordered Fillenwarth Dennerline to pay the insurance department $18 million, concluding it failed to alert the trust's board to mushrooming financial problems.

The verdict-which far exceeded the small law firm's ability to pay-equaled the
amount of unpaid claims owed to 8,000 Hoosiers when the trust collapsed.

Fillenwarth Dennerline had desperately tried to settle the litigation before trial. It was hit with the judgment only after ProNational refused an offer to settle for a mere $1 million-the maximum amount of the law firm's insurance coverage.

Before the jury handed down the devastating judgment, Fillenwarth Dennerline had sued ProNational, charging it was acting in bad faith.

Earlier this year, the insurance department released the law firm from that judgment after it agreed to pay $50,000 and assign its bad-faith claim against ProNational to the department.

In agreeing to pay the department $16.5 million, ProNational does not acknowledge doing anything improper.

"We are pleased with the outcome and the company is pleased to be able to put this behind them," said Joe Chapelle, a Barnes & Thornburg attorney representing ProNational.

The law firm Cohen and Malad represented the insurance department in the litigation.

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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. Well...you guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).