Thomas Fire victims file lawsuit against Farmers Insurance company

Farmers Insurance Company is NOTORIOUS for denying claims!  This is just the tip of the iceberg, Farmers Insurance has been using this as a business practice since it starting doing business.  If you are currently using Farmers Insurance for insurance DROP THEM before YOU become their next victim!

VENTURA, Calif. – The effects of the Thomas Fire are still being felt for one Ventura family that claims their insurance company is failing to cover the damage done to their home.

Tina Marquez’ home on Colina Vista street survived the fire, but she says her family is now in a battle with Farmers Insurance.

“The overall sentiment from our insurance company was that we don’t really care, you’ll just deal with it…it is what it is and we don’t owe you anything,” said Marquez.

Marquez and her Husband, Sean, are the first Thomas Fire victims to file a bad faith lawsuit against an insurance company. After they noticed their home suffered internal and external damage, they filed a claim with Farmers Insurance.

She says the company offered her $2,600 to clean the home but her family has spent more than $15,000 to make their home livable again.

“It’s not environmentally clean, we have five air purifiers, which we have to clean every two weeks and one air scrubber,” said Marquez.

Marquez’s five-year-old son, Max, struggles with respiratory issues and she says his asthma has gotten worse since the fire.

“Every once in a while he will wake up in the middle of the night and wake me up and say, ‘Mommy I can’t breathe,’” said Marquez.

In frustration, the family decided to file suit. They claim Farmers Insurance didn’t pay enough for the damage and acted in bad faith.

“What Farmers is doing is they are trying to draw a distinction between damage caused by a flame or from heat,” said Attorney, Dennis Jones. “They are trying to distinguish that between what was caused by soot, ash, smoke and char, and we believe that is a distinction they are not allowed to draw under California law.”

We reached out to Farmers Insurance for a statement. A spokeswoman says, “We decline comment on matters in litigation.”

Marquez says she is happy to have her home still standing, but worried for the long-term health effects.

“We have been here all this time in an environment that is not clean,” said Marquez. “How is that affecting our health right now? What is that going to mean in the future?”


Farmers Insurance Hit With Class Action Lawsuit After LA Wildfire

By Brandon Lowrey

A Los Angeles homeowner hit a Farmers Insurance Co. unit with a proposed class action in California state court on Wednesday alleging the insurers illegally limited coverage of wildfire smoke damage by changing policies without adequate notice and saying it was “not actual fire damage.”
Plaintiff Ismael Frias, a resident of the Los Angeles suburb of Sylmar, said that Mid-Century Insurance Co. applied a $5,000 “Wildfire Smoke Sublimit” to his claim under his homeowner’s insurance policy. Mid-Century allegedly added the sublimit to the policy when Frias renewed in March, but didn’t clearly notify him. Frias also contends that the sublimit violates California a insurance law standardizing fire damage policies.

“The purported $5,000.00 Wildfire Smoke Sublimit violates Insurance Code section 2071, is not reflected on the declarations Page, is not plain, clear and conspicuous, and is unenforceable,” Frias argued.

Frias made a claim for damages he suffered during a wildfire on July 23. On that date, the massive Sand Canyon Fire was raging through the mountains north of Sylmar. The fire ultimately scorched nearly 65 square miles before it was contained in August, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.

In September, Frias received a letter from Mid-Century saying the damage to his home wasn’t “actual fire damage” and thus was subject to the $5,000 sublimit, according to the complaint.

Frias alleges claims of breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violation of California’s Unfair Competition Act.

Frias seeks to establish a class of California homeowners who had policies containing the wildfire smoke sublimit and who had submitted claims for wildfire odor, soot, smoke, char or ash damage. He also seeks compensatory and punitive damages, along with attorney’s fees, according to the complaint.

“As a result of defendants’ conduct, plaintiff and members of the class and subclass have been damaged, including but not limited to, paying insurance premiums for coverage rendered illusory by the unlawful Wildfire Smoke Sublimit,” the complaint said.

Representatives for Farmers did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Frias is represented by Joshua H. Haffner and Levi M. Plesset of Haffner Law PC.

Counsel information for the defendants was not immediately available.

The case is Ismael Frias et al. v. Farmers Group Inc. et al., case number BC638626, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

—Editing by Joe Phalon.


Farmers Insurance Employee Discrimination

Farmers Insurance Exchange will pay a total of $225,000 to three former employees to settle a federal complaint of racial discrimination and retaliation.

By Tim Sheehan

Farmers Insurance Exchange will pay $225,000 to three former employees to settle a federal complaint over racial discrimination and retaliation at its Fresno claims office.

U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Ishii approved the settlement on Wednesday and it was announced Thursday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It stems from a complaint filed by the EEOC in 2013 on behalf of two Hmong employees who were terminated in 2009, as well as a third employee who was allegedly fired for testifying to the EEOC in its investigation.

The EEOC charged that prior to 2009, supervisors had instructed employees at Farmers’ branch claims office in Fresno to code payments to customers as partial payments as a way of avoiding negative customer service surveys. But a 2009 audit led to interviews of claims representatives over the partial-payment coding. Two Hmong representatives, Chia Xiong and John Yang, were later terminated, the EEOC alleged, while non-Asian employees who had also coded some cases as partial payments were retained by the company.

The EEOC complaint alleged that Farmers terminated two of its Asian employees for coding cases as partial payments “while retaining similarly situated non-Asian employees who had also coded cases as partial payments.”

After Xiong filed a complaint with the EEOC, a third employee, Jason Lowry, was interviewed by the federal agency in 2012 as part of its investigation. Within two weeks, Farmers questioned Lowry about his testimony to the EEOC, and the next day he was placed on leave. Six weeks later, Lowry was fired “due to his participation in the EEOC’s investigation,” according to the complaint.

Melissa Barrios, the EEOC Fresno office director, applauded the affected employees for coming forward with their experience with the company, “because oftentimes Asian and Pacific Islander communities are reluctant to complain.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Farmers does not admit any liability or wrongdoing.

In addition to the financial terms covering lost wages as well as damages for emotional distress, the consent decree requires Farmers to assign a monitor to its Fresno claims office to ensure compliance with federal fair employment laws, train supervisors and human-resources officers about the law and train employees about their legal rights.

“We commend Farmers Insurance Exchange for agreeing to make changes that will ensure compliance with federal law,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles district, whose territory includes Fresno.

Tim Sheehan: 559-441-6319, @TimSheehanNews

Farmers Insurance will pay a high price for discriminating against its female attorneys

Federal District Judge Lucy Koh had some very picky questions Thursday about terminology used in a multimillion-dollar settlement hammered out between Farmers Insurance and the hundreds of female attorneys it has underpaid for years.

I wasn’t expecting fireworks, exactly, but I thought things would be a little more lively for a case that could have a major effect on companies that, even unwittingly, pay men more than women for the same work.

Despite the technical questions coming from the bench, at least one person in the courtroom was absolutely riveted: Lynne Coates, a former Farmers attorney who discovered during a casual work conversation two years ago that a male colleague with less experience was earning more than she. Not too much later, she also found out her male litigation partner was being paid twice her salary — $185,000 versus $99,000. The man could hardly be considered more experienced than Coates; he earned his law license a year after she earned hers.

Coates, 50, complained to her manager, who responded by effectively demoting her, giving her work more suited to a paralegal than an experienced trial attorney.

It was embarrassing and humiliating,” she told me last year. “My job was taken away from me.”

She quit and filed a lawsuit, alleging Farmers had broken state and federal discrimination laws. Within months, nearly 300 female attorneys joined the class-action lawsuit. Nearly 200 of them are current Farmers attorneys.

Farmers has agreed to pay $4 million. As lead plaintiff, Coates will receive at least $85,000.

But more important, the company has also agreed to an impressive series of reforms, including increasing the number of women attorneys in its higher salary grades.

Also, for a period of three years, a company official will monitor compliance with the agreement, provide diversity training to attorneys and give progress reports to San Francisco attorney Lori Andrus, who represented Coates and the other plaintiffs, along with San Jose attorney Lori Costanzo.

“An excellent agreement,” Koh said.

“This is a substantial victory, and a good model going forward,” said UC Hastings law professor Joan Williams, an expert on workplace gender issues.

I wondered if three years was enough time to reverse decades of subtle workplace discrimination.

Andrus said she was pleased.  “We think it’s plenty of time for them to really, really clean up their act,” she said.

In the end, the case boiled down to a battle of statistics.

Farmers wanted to compare attorneys in small, individual branch offices, which Andrus and Costanzo resisted.  “If you look just at their San Jose office, which employs eight attorneys, it’s such a small number that comparing them makes it difficult to draw any conclusions,” she said. But when the salaries of Farmers attorneys all over the country were compared, Andrus said, “the wage gap quadrupled.”

Not surprisingly, greater disparity occurred at the higher salary grades. Perhaps the male attorneys in those grades had more experience than their female counterparts?  To control for that, Andrus and Costanzo looked at the dates each attorney passed the bar as a measure of experience.

“We found that women were much more likely to be in a lower salary grade,” Andrus said, “regardless of bar date.”

So although women and men were both hired into lower salary grades, women basically got stuck there.

“It’s not that women were being demoted,” Andrus said. “But a man would get groomed and promoted. Basically, there is male favoritism, which is probably unintentional. It’s a vestige of the good old boy network.”

Increasingly, employers are recognizing that pay gaps may be unintentional, but are unmistakably real.

Last year, the San Francisco-based tech giant Salesforce awarded $3 million in raises after discovering, through a voluntary salary analysis, that it had a gender wage gap. “We did find quite a few women who were being paid less than men and we’ve made that change,” Chief Executive Marc Benioff told CNN. “With just the push of one button, every CEO in the world can know exactly what is their pay discrepancy between men and women, and I hope that every CEO pushes that button.”

That would be nice.

“If we see more and more of these audits,” said California Democratic state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, “I think we are going to see major shifts.

Jackson co-authored a new state law, the California Fair Pay Act, that has been described as “one of the most aggressive” equal pay laws in the country. It was incorporated into the Farmers lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs who still work at the company.

One reason the law has been hailed as a breakthrough is that it requires companies to pay employees equally for work that is substantially similar — not exactly the same. That is a critical twist.

“The pay scale for a janitor in a hotel is greater than a housekeeper,” Jackson said. “Why is that? The work is substantially similar, and yet most janitors are men, most housekeepers are women.”

The law also shifts the burden of proof. Bosses are now required to show that a wage differential is the result of a bona fide factor like education, training or experience, not sex.

In the court hallway after the hearing, Coates was beaming. “I feel good,” she said. “The changes that Farmers has agreed to implement are going to make such a difference for the women in the company, and that is what this is all about.”

Maybe so. This year, Andrus said, Farmers gave unscheduled raises of $10,000 to $13,000 to female attorneys who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

It’s a start. But barely.

Farmers Insurance would refund $84.4 million under Texas settlement

AUSTIN — A judge has tentatively approved a settlement between Farmers Insurance and the state that would resolve a long-running lawsuit alleging massive overcharges by the company in its homeowners policies more than a dozen years ago.

State District Judge Scott Jenkins of Travis County said Thursday that he would sign an order approving the settlement, which calls for refunds to Farmers customers of $84.4 million.

That comes on top of a 6.8 percent reduction in homeowners rates already implemented, for a total settlement of $127.5 million.

“I would like to get this done,” Jenkins said of the case, which has been in the courts since late 2002. That’s when Farmers and the Texas Department of Insurance first negotiated a settlement to state allegations against one of the largest property insurers.

Texas Insurance Commissioner David Mattax called the agreement “a significant step toward returning funds to deserving Farmers customers.” But consumer groups attacked the proposal as a giveaway to Farmers.

“This deal lets Farmers pocket millions of dollars in overcharges without paying interest on its wrongfully collected premiums,” said Alex Winslow of Texas Watch, which closely follows insurance issues. “The bottom line is that Farmers customers are left holding the bag.”

Winslow said the agreement “lets Farmers off the hook for millions in excessive premiums.” Testimony during two days of hearings that concluded Thursday indicated that while Farmers overcharged policyholders by 12 percent to 18 percent, the settlement required it to return only 6.8 percent.

Mattax said during the hearing that he was unable to secure a larger refund from Farmers during the negotiations.

Farmers does not admit wrongdoing under the settlement, and company officials indicated they wanted to resolve the case after several years in court.

As many as 1.8 million current and former Farmers policyholders could be affected by the settlement, but no refund checks or premium credits will be issued before a “final fairness” hearing in the class action case on Feb. 1. Three intervenors in the case are opposed to the settlement and indicated they will raise objections during that hearing.

Policyholders who are affected were given less comprehensive policies in the wake of the mold crisis that rocked the Texas home insurance market more than a decade ago. Premiums on those policies were not decreased to reflect the reduced coverage, according to the state.

Other affected customers were not given premium reductions for discounts they were entitled to. Still other policyholders paid excessive premiums for auto and home insurance because of inaccurate credit reports used by the company.

Credit reports are used by most insurers in determining premiums their customers pay.

The case was the first class action insurance lawsuit ever filed by the attorney general’s office. Farmers countersued, insisting it did nothing wrong.

However, late in 2002, Farmers conceded and agreed to a package of refunds, rate reductions and premium credits that was similar to what Judge Jenkins approved Thursday.

Follow Terrence Stutz on Twitter at @t_stutz.


Farmers Insurance Refuses to Pay

Another Lawsuit against Farmers Insurance.   Farmers Insurance is always refusing to pay.  -Admin

Hagan and Ewald were insured by Farmers and had underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage up to $250,000 and medical payments coverage up to $25,000. Abdullahi was insured by Young America Insurance (“Young America”), with a policy limit of $25,000. Young America paid Ewald $25,000 to settle her claim. It paid Hagan $15,000 to settle her claim and held $10,000 in reserve for additional exposure. Hagan and Ewald contend that they also were entitled to UIM benefits, which Farmers has refused to pay.

—— snip——-   —— snip——-

Colorado Supreme Court — January 26, 2015
2015 CO 6. Nos. 14SA266, 14SA267 & 14SA313. In re Hagan v. Farmers Insurance Exchange; In re Ewald v. Farmers Insurance Exchange; In re Mayfield v. Farmers Insurance Exchange.

The Supreme Court of the State of Colorado
2 East 14th Avenue • Denver, Colorado 80203

2015 CO 6

Supreme Court Case No. 14SA266
Original Proceeding Pursuant to C.A.R. 21
Boulder County District Court Case No. 14CV30599
Honorable D.D. Mallard, Judge
Arapahoe County District Court Case No. 14CV171
Honorable Elizabeth Ann Weishaupl, Judge

In Re

Deanna Hagan and Shane Hagan,
Farmers Insurance Exchange.

* * * * *

Supreme Court Case No. 14SA267
Original Proceeding Pursuant to C.A.R. 21
Boulder County District Court Case No. 14CV30600
Honorable Andrew Hartman, Judge
Arapahoe County District Court Case No. 14CV162
Honorable F. Stephen Collins, Judge

In Re

Cynthia Ewald,
Farmers Insurance Exchange.

* * * * * 

Supreme Court Case No. 14SA313
Original Proceeding Pursuant to C.A.R. 21
Boulder County District Court Case No. 14CV30842
Honorable D.D. Mallard, Judge
El Paso County District Court Case No. 14CV364
Honorable Maria R. Prudek, Judge

In Re

James Mayfield,
Farmers Insurance Exchange.

Rules Made Absolute
en banc

January 26, 2015

Attorneys for Plaintiffs Deanna Hagan, Shane Hagan, and Cynthia Ewald:
Taussig & Taussig, P.C.
John E. Taussig, III
Dustin E. Bergman

Boulder, Colorado

The Fowler Law Firm, LLC
Timms R. Fowler

Fort Collins, Colorado

Attorneys for Plaintiff James Mayfield:
Richard M. Crane Denver, Colorado
Earl & Earl, PLLC
Collin J. Earl

Castle Rock, Colorado

Attorneys for Defendant:
Fowler, Schimberg & Flanagan, P.C.
Daniel M. Fowler
Max S. Gad

Denver, Colorado

JUSTICE HOOD delivered the Opinion of the Court.


¶1         These original proceedings involve plaintiffs who filed separate actions against the same defendant, Farmers Insurance Exchange (“Farmers”), in Boulder County District Court. In each case, Farmers moved to change venue under C.R.C.P. 98(f)(2), alleging that a change would promote “the convenience of witnesses and the ends of justice.” Farmers supported its motions with attorney affidavits that purport to demonstrate—based on Google Maps printouts alone—that the transferee court is a more convenient venue for the plaintiffs and their medical treatment providers. The trial court granted the motions in all three cases.

¶2       The plaintiffs asked this court to issue a rule to show cause why the orders granting a change of venue should not be vacated and venue transferred back to Boulder County. Their petitions under C.A.R. 21 exposed an inconsistency in how judges within the same district have applied Rule 98. Recognizing the need to promote a uniform application of the venue rules, we issued our rules to show cause.

¶3       We now make our rules absolute. We hold that the trial courts abused their discretion when they changed the venue in these cases. First, Boulder County District Court is a proper venue for all three cases; under C.R.C.P. 98(c)(1), the plaintiffs were allowed to file their complaints in the county of their choice because Farmers is a nonresident defendant. Second, the trial courts granted the motions without the requisite evidentiary support. The affidavits that Farmers submitted improperly focus on convenience to the plaintiffs and do not satisfy the standard set forth in Sampson v.  District Court, 197 Colo. 158, 160, 590 P.2d 958, 959 (1979). Sampson requires a party seeking to change venue under Rule 98(f)(2) to support the motion with evidence indicating “the identity of the witnesses, the nature, materiality and admissibility of their testimony, and how the witnesses would be better accommodated by the requested change in venue.” Id. Consequently, we direct the transferee courts to return the cases to Boulder County District Court.

I. Facts and Procedural History

A. Hagan and Ewald

¶4       In 2011, Deanna Hagan (a driver) and her mother-in-law, Cynthia Ewald (her passenger), were involved in a car accident in Weld County. A third party, Abdi Abdullahi, allegedly collided with them after running a red light. Both Hagan and Ewald were hurt in the collision and received medical treatment for their injuries. Hagan asserts that she incurred over $11,000 in medical expenses and lost income because of her injuries. Ewald asserts that she incurred almost $68,000 in medical expenses and also lost income because of her injuries.

¶5       Hagan and Ewald were insured by Farmers and had underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage up to $250,000 and medical payments coverage up to $25,000. Abdullahi was insured by Young America Insurance (“Young America”), with a policy limit of $25,000. Young America paid Ewald $25,000 to settle her claim. It paid Hagan $15,000 to settle her claim and held $10,000 in reserve for additional exposure. Hagan and Ewald contend that they also were entitled to UIM benefits, which Farmers has refused to pay.

¶6       Represented by the same counsel, Hagan (together with her husband) and Ewald filed separate lawsuits against Farmers in Boulder County District Court on the same day. The lawsuits asserted claims for breach of contract, bad faith breach of insurance contract, and improper denial of insurance claims in violation of sections 10-3-1115(1)(a) and 10-3-1116(1), C.R.S. (2014). The Hagans also asserted a loss of consortium claim.

¶7       In both cases, Farmers filed a motion to change the venue to Arapahoe County District Court under Rule 98(f)(2), emphasizing that “[n]o potential witnesses have any connection to Boulder County.” Farmers supported its motions with affidavits by its attorney, which contained Google Maps printouts and estimated distances and travel times for the plaintiffs and their potential witnesses.1

¶8       The trial courts granted Farmers’ motions to change venue. The trial court in Ewald’s case ruled first. It determined that Boulder County was not a proper venue. Then, noting that Ewald’s medical treatment providers were “substantially closer” to the transferee court, it concluded that “a change in venue would promote the convenience of witnesses and the ends of justice.” Relying on the order in Ewald, the trial court in the Hagans’ case followed suit.

B. Mayfield

¶9       In 2012, James Mayfield was involved in a car accident in El Paso County with an underinsured motorist, Mark Merriman, who allegedly failed to stop at a traffic light. Mayfield was hurt in the collision and received medical treatment for his injuries. He asserts that he incurred over $73,000 in medical expenses, had to drop out of school, and suffered a loss of earning capacity and substantial non-economic losses.

¶10       Mayfield was insured by Farmers and had UIM coverage up to $100,000. Merriman was insured by GEICO, with liability coverage up to $100,000. Mayfield filed a lawsuit against Merriman and settled it for $95,000. Claiming that his damages far exceeded $100,000, Mayfield then sought UIM benefits from Farmers. Farmers offered him $15,000 and refused to pay more.

¶11       Represented by different counsel than the Hagans and Ewald, Mayfield filed a lawsuit against Farmers in Boulder County District Court. In response to a motion to change venue, Mayfield’s counsel filed an affidavit in which he stated that “[t]he reason that Plaintiff’s Complaint was filed in Boulder was that Colorado’s new Civil Access Pilot Project rules (CAPP) are not applicable in Boulder County District Court” and that he and his co-counsel “do not feel that this would be a good case to litigate under the CAPP rules.”2 Mayfield asserted claims for breach of contract and improper denial of insurance claims in violation of sections 10-3-1115(1)(a) and 10-3-1116(1). Mayfield’s case was assigned to the same trial judge as the Hagans’ case.

¶12       Represented by the same defense counsel, Farmers filed a motion to change the venue to El Paso County District Court under Rule 98(f)(2), again emphasizing that “[n]o potential witnesses have any connection to Boulder County.” Farmers once more supported its motion with an attorney affidavit with attached Google Maps printouts and estimated distances and travel times for the plaintiff and his potential witnesses. The trial court granted the motion.3

II. Original Jurisdiction

¶13       Under C.A.R. 21, this court may exercise its original jurisdiction to review the trial courts’ orders because they relate to venue. See City of Colo. Springs v. Bd. of Comm’rs, 147 P.3d 1, 2 (Colo. 2006). Venue refers to the place of trial or “the locality where an action may be properly brought.” State v. Borquez, 751 P.2d 639, 641 (Colo. 1988). Review is appropriate under C.A.R. 21 because “[i]ssues involving venue directly affect the trial court’s jurisdiction and authority to proceed with a case.” City of Colo. Springs, 147 P.3d at 2 (citing Millet v. Dist. Court, 951 P.2d 476, 477 (Colo. 1998)). Further, review of a venue determination serves to avoid the delay and expense involved in a re-trial should this court deem venue improper. See id. (citing Bd. of Cnty. Comm’rs v. Dist. Court, 632 P.2d 1017, 1020 (Colo. 1981)).

III. Analysis

¶14       Generally, a plaintiff is entitled to choose the place of trial when venue in more than one county would be proper. 7 Utes Corp. v. Dist. Court, 702 P.2d 262, 266 (Colo. 1985) (characterizing it as a plaintiff’s “right”); accord Tillery v. Dist. Court, 692 P.2d 1079, 1083–84 n.9 (Colo. 1984) (“[T]he plaintiffs, absent C.R.C.P. 98(f)(2) concerns, are entitled to their choice of venue.”). There is a “strong presumption” in favor of that choice. UIH-SFCC Holdings, L.P. v. Brigato, 51 P.3d 1076, 1078 (Colo. App. 2002).

¶15       The party seeking a change of venue bears the burden of proving the right to a change. Cliff v. Gleason, 142 Colo. 500, 502, 351 P.2d 394, 396 (1960) (citing Fletcher v.  Stowell, 17 Colo. 94, 97, 28 P. 326, 327 (1891)). A court may change the place of trial “on good cause shown” under two circumstances: “(1) When the county designated in the complaint is not the proper county; (2) When the convenience of witnesses and the ends of justice would be promoted by the change.” C.R.C.P. 98(f). A trial court’s decision on a motion to change venue is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Sampson, 197 Colo. at 159–60, 590 P.2d at 959. If the trial court grants a motion to change venue despite a defendant’s failure to show that venue should be changed under the standard delineated in Sampson, this court will return the action to the original venue for trial. Tillery, 692 P.2d at 1084.

¶16       To assess whether the trial courts abused their discretion in granting Farmers’ requests for a change of venue, we ask two questions. First, was venue in Boulder County District Court proper? The answer to this question is yes. Second, can a defendant seeking a change of venue under Rule 98(f)(2) based on witness convenience and the ends of justice satisfy its burden by submitting an affidavit that focuses on the proximity of the respective venues to the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s possible witnesses? The answer to this question is no.

A. Rule 98(f)(1)

¶17       We first assess whether Boulder County is a “proper county” for these cases for purposes of Rule 98(f)(1) and conclude that it is.4

¶18       Our inquiry begins with the language of Rule 98(c), which presents a series of alternative, and equally appropriate, venues in a tort, contract, or other action. At issue here, subsection (1) provides:

[A]n action shall be tried in the county in which the defendants, or any of them, may reside at the commencement of the action, or in the county where the plaintiff resides when service is made on the defendant in such county; or if the defendant is a nonresident of this state, the [action] may be tried in any county in which the defendant may be found in this state, or in the county designated in the complaint, and if any defendant is about to depart from the state, such action may be tried in any county where plaintiff resides, or where defendant may be found and service had.

C.R.C.P. 98(c)(1) (emphasis added).5

¶19       Here, it is undisputed that Farmers has its principal place of business in California and is not a resident of Colorado. Consequently, pursuant to the highlighted language above, the Hagans, Ewald, and Mayfield were permitted to designate any county in their complaints, including Boulder County. See Denver Air Ctr. v. Dist.  Court, 839 P.2d 1182, 1184–85 (Colo. 1992) (“The language of [Rule 98(c)] has been interpreted to permit trial of an action in the county of plaintiff’s choice where no defendant is a resident of Colorado.” (citing Int’l Serv. Ins. Co. v. Ross, 169 Colo. 451, 462, 457 P.2d 917, 923 (1969))); see also Stephen A. Hess, 5A Colorado Practice:  Handbook on Civil Litigation § 1.5 (2014) (“If no defendant is a resident, the plaintiff may choose any county to name as the place of venue.”).

¶20       However, when the trial court granted Farmers’ motion for a change of venue in Ewald’s action, it deemed “Plaintiffs’ designated venue of Boulder County” to be “improper under C.R.C.P. 98(c).” It reached this conclusion after quoting only a portion of Rule 98(c)(1), which omitted the key phrase “or in the county designated in the complaint.” Following suit eight days later, the trial court in the Hagans’ action incorporated the legal analysis in the Ewald order into its own order granting Farmers’ motion for a change of venue—noting that it was “persuasive authority because the Court agrees with its logic.”

¶21       The trial courts in the Hagan and Ewald lawsuits abused their discretion in holding that Boulder County was not a proper venue. Because Farmers is a nonresident of Colorado, the plaintiffs were permitted to designate any county in their complaints under Rule 98(c)(1). In choosing Boulder, the plaintiffs may well have engaged in “forum shopping” and ventured away from where these cases seem to have their roots. But Rule 98(c)(1) does not restrict the plaintiff’s choice of venue when the defendant is a nonresident,6 and potential witnesses need not have a connection to Boulder, despite Farmers’ insistence to the contrary.7

B. Rule 98(f)(2)

¶22       We next assess whether a change of venue would promote “the convenience of witnesses and the ends of justice” as required by C.R.C.P. 98(f)(2)—focusing on the type of evidence that a movant must present. We conclude that the attorney affidavits that Farmers presented to the district court were insufficient under Sampson and its progeny.

¶23       In Sampson, this court made clear that the party moving to change venue under Rule 98(f)(2) must show, “through affidavit or evidence, the identity of the witnesses, the nature, materiality and admissibility of their testimony, and how the witnesses would be better accommodated by the requested change in venue.” 197 Colo. at 160, 590 P.2d at 959; see also Ranger Ins. Co. v. Dist. Court, 647 P.2d 1229, 1231 (Colo. 1982) (reiterating this principle); Dep’t of Highways, 635 P.2d at 891 (same).

¶24       This standard consolidates the varying requirements imposed in earlier cases, which we cited in Sampson. See, e.g., Enyart v. Orr, 78 Colo. 6, 11, 238 P. 29, 32 (1925) (emphasizing that “[a]ffidavits in support of motions for change of venue should state facts”); Corson v. Neatheny, 9 Colo. 212, 214–15, 11 P. 82, 84 (1886) (upholding denial of motion to change venue where supporting affidavit contained information that would not have been admissible); Denver & R.G.R. Co. v. Cahill, 8 Colo. App. 158, 163, 45 P. 285, 286 (1896) (labeling as “insufficient” an affidavit that “did not state what any witness would testify to, or that the testimony of any witness would be material to any issue in the case”); see also Hills v. La Due, 5 Colo. App. 248, 249, 38 P. 430, 430–31 (1894) (stating that affidavit in support of motion to change venue should contain “[t]he facts to which the witness whose convenience it was desired to subserve would testify” and, since no answer had been filed and no defense disclosed, “the facts constituting the defense”).

¶25       Conclusory statements do not satisfy this standard. In Sampson, for example, this court explained that it was not enough for the movant to assert that the designated venue was remote and that witnesses would be inconvenienced. 197 Colo. at 160, 590 P.2d at 959. And in Ranger Insurance Co., this court concluded that the record was too limited to support a change of venue when the movant summarily asserted that another venue would be more convenient for the witnesses and would promote the ends of justice. 647 P.2d at 1231.

¶26       When the movant makes the requisite showing, the party opposing the change “must at least balance the showing made by the moving party” or the court should grant the motion. Dep’t of Highways, 635 P.2d at 891. Farmers has not made the requisite showing in these cases, as the attorney affidavits that it submitted in support of its motions to change venue do not satisfy the Sampson standard.

¶27       In all three cases, Farmers’ motions relied on affidavits by its attorney. Those affidavits primarily analyze (1) the distance the plaintiffs and their medical treatment providers would have to travel to get to the proposed transferee court, as compared to the original venue, and (2) the approximate travel time to each venue. Because these travel distances and times are generally shorter for the proposed transferee court, Farmers contends that the transferee court is necessarily a more convenient venue under Rule 98(f)(2). We disagree.

¶28       The problem lies not in who provided the affidavits, but in their contents. The deficiency is twofold.

¶29       First and foremost, Farmers’ affidavits focus inordinately on the convenience of the non-moving party. Farmers calculates (and compares) the distance and estimated travel time, without traffic, from the plaintiffs’ homes to the Boulder County and Arapahoe County courthouses (in the Hagan and Ewald actions) and to the Boulder County and El Paso County courthouses (in the Mayfield action).8 But a plaintiff’s convenience is not a defendant’s concern. A defendant may not use a plaintiff’s residential address (or a plaintiff’s professional address) against him or her to attack a venue that is specifically permitted by Rule 98.

¶30       Second, to satisfy the standard set forth in Sampson, the affidavits must contain three categories of pertinent information: (1) “the identity of the witnesses”; (2) “the nature, materiality and admissibility of their testimony”; and (3) “how the witnesses would be better accommodated by the requested change in venue.” See Sampson, 197 Colo. at 160, 590 P.2d at 959. No category is determinative; the trial court must assess the totality of the circumstances to assess whether a change of venue is necessary and appropriate.

¶31       We evaluate each category in turn. We do so against the backdrop of our case law, which provides examples of what types of evidence will (and will not) support a Rule 98(f)(2) motion, as well as guidance on the types of circumstances that may justify a change of venue. Department of Highways, for instance, provides an exemplar of an affidavit that contains the requisite information. There, a motorist who was injured in an accident due to a hole in the pavement on an exit ramp filed a negligence action against the Department of Highways in Denver County. 635 P.2d at 890. The Department filed a motion to change venue to Kit Carson County, which it supported with an affidavit by its assistant maintenance superintendent, who investigated the accident. Id. at 890–91. The affidavit listed the names and addresses of 15 witnesses whom the Department (not the plaintiff) intended to call at trial—six of whom were employees and all of whom resided in Kit Carson County. Id. at 891. The affidavit contained a brief description of their testimony. Id. It averred the Department operated with very few employees due to budget limitations and it would be impossible to maintain the local roads with these employees attending a trial in Denver, over 150 miles away; thus, the inconvenience was to the Department and not to the plaintiff. Id. We deemed this affidavit sufficient to justify a change of venue. Id. at 890–92.

1. The Identity of the Witnesses

¶32       We begin by evaluating whether Farmers’ attorney affidavits sufficiently set forth “the identity of the witnesses.”

¶33       Farmers lists the plaintiffs’ own names and addresses, together with the names and addresses of their “treating medical providers” and the physicians who performed their independent medical evaluations.9 Farmers extracted this information from the plaintiffs’ demand letters, which it attached to the affidavits. As explained above, the party plaintiffs’ convenience is immaterial. Also, identification of the plaintiffs’ medical treatment providers implicates the third prong, namely how witnesses would be affected.

¶34       The affidavits largely ignore Farmers’ own employees, as well as potential third-party witnesses. Only the affidavit filed in Ewald’s case—which lists “Heidi Hanson, the most recent claims handler on Plaintiff’s claim”—identifies any of Farmers’ own employee-witnesses by name.10 And only the affidavit in Mayfield’s case lists a third-party witness—“the underlying tortfeasor, Mark Merriman.”11

¶35       Furthermore, Farmers lists numerous business names, without specifying a doctor or corporate representative.12 Although the demand letters (which contain some additional identifying information) are also attached in support of the motions, complete information for each witness should be apparent from the face of an affidavit (or other evidence) to facilitate the court’s evaluation of the motion to change venue.

¶36       Because Farmers focuses almost exclusively on the plaintiffs and their medical treatment providers and omits its own potential witnesses, and because Farmers often provides business names only, its affidavits do not identify the witnesses sufficiently to justify a change of venue under Rule 98(f)(2).

2. The Nature, Materiality, and Admissibility of the Witnesses’ Testimony

¶37       We next consider the second prong of the Sampson standard—whether Farmers’ attorney affidavits address the nature, materiality, and admissibility of the potential witnesses’ testimony. This requirement ensures that a motion to change venue does not engender a meaningless “battle of numbers,” in which the parties compete by presenting the reviewing court with long lists of possible witnesses located in their preferred venues.

¶38       This court has applied this requirement (and deemed it fulfilled) in cases such as Department of Highways. See 635 P.2d at 890–92. But we have not yet expanded on what it takes to satisfy this requirement. We do so today, turning to commentary on 28 U.S.C. § 1404 (2014) (the federal counterpart to Rule 98) for guidance.

¶39       The party seeking a change of venue must provide at least “a general summary” of what the key witnesses’ testimony will cover. See 15 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3851 (3d ed. 2010). That description should provide the reviewing court with enough information to understand whether the witnesses are important or peripheral. Id. (noting that the description should allow the trial court “to determine what and how important their testimony will be”). Consider, for example, a case in which one key nonparty witness is located in or near the original venue and another key nonparty witness is located in or near the proposed venue. The description should allow the court to make an informed judgment as to their respective importance. In addition, if the admissibility of a witness’s testimony is in question (e.g., because it contains hearsay), the affidavit identifying that witness should briefly explain why his or her testimony will likely be admissible.

¶40       We recognize that motions to change venue are generally filed at the beginning stages of litigation, before the parties have engaged in discovery. But this timing should not preclude a movant from providing information at this most basic level.

¶41       Because Farmers’ affidavits do not contain any information at all on the nature, materiality, and admissibility of the potential witnesses’ testimony, they do not meet the second prong of the Sampson standard and do not justify a change of venue under Rule 98(f)(2).13

3. How the Witnesses Would Be Affected

¶42       Last, we assess whether Farmers’ attorney affidavits establish “how the witnesses would be better accommodated by the requested change in venue.” In other words, how will the change affect the witnesses?

¶43       The affidavits do not establish how any witnesses would be better accommodated by the requested change of venue. Distance and travel time logically factor into convenience, but they are not dispositive. Farmers’ assertion that trial in Boulder County would be inconvenient for witnesses is largely speculative.

¶44       Courts have expressed suspicion when a defendant advocates for the convenience of a plaintiff’s witnesses.14 We share their apprehension. While the convenience of the plaintiffs’ witnesses is relevant in assessing convenience under Rule 98(f)(2), the moving party should point to more than distance: Do the professional witnesses, such as treatment providers, actually object to the travel involved? If so, why?

¶45       The affidavits do not demonstrate that a single witness actually stated that it would be inconvenient for him or her to attend a trial in Boulder County, as compared to the transferee courts. Witness affidavits to this effect would help. See Tillery, 692 P.2d at 1081–83 (affirming that Denver County District Court had discretion to grant motion to change venue to Summit County, when motion was supported by witness affidavits stating that it would be inconvenient for them to appear in Denver); cf. Lopez  v. Am. Standard Ins. Co., No. 14CV30476 (Colo. Dist. Ct. Aug. 7, 2014) (Order: Reply in Support of Motion to Change Venue) (considering that three of plaintiff’s witnesses provided an affidavit stating that Weld County would not be more convenient than Boulder County in denying insurance company’s motion to change venue under Rule 98(f)(2)); see also Jacobs v. Banks Shapiro Gettinger Waldinger & Brennan, LLP, 780 N.Y.S.2d 582, 583 (N.Y. App. Div. 2004) (emphasizing that defendants “did not even indicate that they had contacted the nonparty witnesses, much less identify the specific inconveniences which might be incurred by the witnesses,” rendering their moving papers insufficient as a matter of law).

¶46       It is also noteworthy that the affidavits do not contain the home addresses for the potential witnesses, except for the plaintiffs themselves. Without requiring that a movant include both work and home addresses for each witness identified, we note the possibility that the witnesses’ homes might be closer to Boulder County, thereby rendering that venue more convenient for those witnesses traveling from home, not the workplace.

¶47       Further, it does not appear that the plaintiffs even intend to call the many witnesses enumerated in the affidavits, or (on the flip side) that Farmers’ witness list is complete. By way of example, Mayfield advises the court that he does not intend to call the majority of the medical treatment providers that Farmers lists in its affidavit. He also notes that the expert witnesses whom he intends to call—who are not on Farmers’ list—are closer to Boulder County than to El Paso County.

¶48       Finally, distance and travel time—while relevant—constitute a nebulous benchmark.15 Granted, this court has not hesitated to find inconvenience in cases involving significant travel differentials in the 150-mile to 200-mile range. See Dep’t of Highways, 635 P.2d at 891–92 (stating that the trial court should have considered the 150-mile distance between Kit Carson County and Denver County in assessing convenience for the witnesses); Bacher, 527 P.2d at 59 (vacating an order denying a motion to change venue, where the counties were remote and material witnesses would have had to travel approximately 200 miles to get to the designated venue). But when two closely situated counties are under scrutiny, no bright line separates convenience from inconvenience. For instance, assuming that the witnesses listed in Farmers’ attorney affidavit in Mayfield’s case actually will testify, where does a 76.5- to 97.6-mile difference fall on the convenience spectrum?

¶49       The split within the Boulder County District Court illustrates that no universal notion of convenience exists. The trial courts found Boulder County to be inconvenient here, but other judges in the same district have deemed extra travel time within the greater Denver area to be less consequential.

¶50       Because Farmers’ evidence does not establish that the witnesses would be better accommodated by a move to another county, it does not justify a change of venue under Rule 98(f)(2). 

4. The Ends of Justice

¶51       In addition to the convenience arguments advanced through the attorney affidavits, Farmers asserts that a change of venue would promote “the ends of justice” by (1) ensuring that “a jury of the majority of the vicinage of the witnesses pass upon their credibility”; (2) deterring plaintiffs from forum shopping to avoid CAPP districts; and (3) reducing witness costs for which Farmers will be responsible if it loses at trial. We reject these arguments.

¶52       “Vicinage” means “vicinity” or “proximity.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1702 (9th ed. 2009). In the context of juries, it is a somewhat anachronistic term referring to “the locality from which jurors will be drawn.” 4 Wayne R. LaFave et al., Criminal Procedure § 16.1 (3d ed. 2007 & Supp. 2014). In criminal cases, for instance, jurors must generally “be selected from a geographical district that includes the locality of the commission of the crime,” without extending “too far beyond the general vicinity of that locality.” Id. There is no corresponding vicinage requirement in civil cases. Moreover, the venues under consideration here are all metropolitan areas along the Front Range; therefore, any difference in the jury’s composition would likely be minimal.

¶53       Farmers’ CAPP and costs-based arguments are likewise without merit. We decline to impose hurdles on a plaintiff’s choice of venue that do not exist in the plain language of Rule 98 and section 13-16-122, C.R.S. (2014) (“Items includable as costs”).16

IV. Conclusion

¶54       “[C]onsistent with specific venue provisions, courts should attempt to accommodate the litigants and their witnesses to the greatest extent possible.” Evans v.  Dist. Court, 194 Colo. 299, 303, 572 P.2d 811, 814 (1977). Still, courts must do so within established parameters. Thirty-six years ago, in Sampson, this court outlined certain evidentiary requirements for a motion to change venue. The trial courts granted Farmers’ motions to change venue without insisting upon the critical information that Sampson requires. It was an abuse of discretion for the trial courts to order a change of venue without adequate supporting affidavits or an evidentiary hearing. See Sampson, 197 Colo. at 160, 590 P.2d at 960; accord Ranger Ins. Co., 647 P.2d at 1231. Consequently, we now make our rules to show cause absolute.

¶55       We hold that the trial courts abused their discretion when they changed the venue in these cases. First, Boulder County District Court is a proper venue for all three cases; under Rule 98(c)(1), the plaintiffs were allowed to file their complaints in the county of their choice because Farmers is a nonresident defendant. Second, the trial courts granted the motions without the requisite evidentiary support. The affidavits that Farmers submitted improperly focus on convenience to the plaintiffs and do not satisfy the standard set forth in Sampson, 197 Colo. at 160, 590 P.2d at 959. Sampson requires a party seeking to change venue under Rule 98(f)(2) to support the motion with evidence indicating “the identity of the witnesses, the nature, materiality and admissibility of their testimony, and how the witnesses would be better accommodated by the requested change in venue.” Id.

¶56       We direct the transferee courts to return the cases to Boulder County District

1 Google Maps is a software application that provides step-by-step driving directions (with street maps) from one location to another, together with the distance and estimated travel time between the two locations. See Google Maps, (last visited Jan. 23, 2015).

2 The CAPP Rules apply to certain business actions in district court. Their purpose is to streamline litigation and “to decrease the burden of civil litigation on both litigants and courts, increase access to judicial dispute resolution, and protect the civil trial as a valuable institution.” See Colorado Civil Rules Pilot Project, A History and Overview of the Colorado Civil Access Pilot Project Applicable to Business Actions in District Court, available at (last visited Jan. 23, 2015). Under Chief Justice Directive 11-02 (amended July 2014), the CAPP Rules apply to designated cases in the First District (Jefferson and Gilpin Counties), Second District (Denver County), Seventeenth District (Adams County only), and Eighteenth District (Arapahoe County only).

3 The parties each submitted district court orders to support their positions. Although the facts of the cases vary, it is clear that judges within Boulder County District Court have not taken a consistent approach in resolving motions to change venue. Some judges have routinely approved motions to change venue based on affidavits like the ones Farmers submitted here. Other judges have denied motions to change venue under similar circumstances.

4 Because the orders in the Hagan and Ewald actions declare to the contrary, we address this issue even though Farmers concedes this point and does not challenge our precedent allowing a plaintiff to designate any county under Rule 98(c)(1) when a defendant is a nonresident.

5 We cannot ascertain from the record whether additional venues might be appropriate. For instance, Rule 98(c)(2) provides that “an action upon contract may also be tried in the county where the same was to be performed.” C.R.C.P. 98(c)(2). Rule 98(c)(4) provides that “[a]n action upon a contract for services may also be tried in the county in which the services were to be performed.” C.R.C.P. 98(c)(4). And Rule 98(c)(5) provides that “[a]n action for tort may also be tried in the county where the tort was committed.” C.R.C.P. 98(c)(5). We need not analyze these alternative venue provisions today, however, because the parties have not relied upon them.

6 A plaintiff’s ability to designate any county under Rule 98(c)(1) does not, of course, mean that his or her venue choice is unfettered. We made clear in Department of Highways v. District Court, 635 P.2d 889, 891–92 (Colo. 1981), and Bacher v. District Court, 186 Colo. 314, 319, 527 P.2d 56, 59 (1974), that a plaintiff’s venue choice is subject to change under Rule 98(f)(2) when the defendant’s motion to change venue is well supported.

7 Farmers repeatedly points out that the Hagan and Ewald cases have no ties to Boulder, beyond the plaintiffs’ counsel having offices there. Yet, in seeking to avoid Boulder County as a venue, Farmers seems to be engaging in the same type of behavior that it condemns. Farmers itself does not establish a connection between its own venue choices and the parties or the underlying events in the Hagan and Ewald actions. This deficiency may stem in part from the continuing debate over the plaintiffs’ county of residence—a debate that the plaintiffs did not resolve during briefing to this court. The complaints allege that the Hagans live with Ewald and are residents of Denver County; however, Farmers states in its motions to change venue that the address provided after the signature block in the complaints corresponds to Arapahoe County through various websites. (By contrast, Farmers has shown a connection between Mayfield’s action and El Paso County. The accident occurred there, Merriman is a resident there, and some of Mayfield’s medical treatment providers have offices there.)

8 Farmers calculates that the Hagans and Ewald (who live together) would have to travel an additional 31.9 miles, or 37 minutes without traffic, to get to Boulder County than to Arapahoe County. It calculates that Mayfield would have to travel an additional 93.9 miles, or 89 minutes without traffic, to get to Boulder County than to El Paso County.

9 Using their office addresses as the starting point, Farmers calculates that 5 of Hagan’s medical treatment providers and 10 of Ewald’s providers would have to travel an additional 23.6 to 40.4 miles, or 24 to 41 minutes without traffic. It calculates that the doctor who performed an independent medical examination of Hagan and Ewald would have to travel an additional 9.8 miles, or 10 minutes without traffic. In addition, Farmers notes that 10 of Mayfield’s medical treatment providers are located in El Paso County, with the remaining 3 in Teller County. It calculates that these providers would have to travel an additional 76.5 to 97.6 miles, or 71 to 93 minutes without traffic.

10 Farmers advises in Ewald’s case that Hanson’s office is in Denver County and that she would have to travel an additional 29.6 miles, or 32 minutes without traffic. The affidavit filed in the Hagans’ case references “the Farmers claims handlers” generally, without naming them. Identifying information is similarly absent in the affidavit filed in Mayfield’s case, which states only that “[n]one of the Farmers personnel who handled Plaintiff’s claim work in Boulder County.”

11 Farmers calculates that Merriman would have to travel an additional 87.9 miles, or 91 minutes without traffic, from his home.

12 In the Hagan action, Farmers lists New Body Chiropractic, Spine One, and Park Meadows Imaging. In the Ewald action, Farmers lists Koop Chiropractic, New Body Chiropractic, Swedish Medical Center, Spine One, Park Meadows Imaging, The Surgery Center at Lone Tree, and Colorado Spine and Orthopedic Rehabilitation Center. And in the Mayfield action, Farmers lists Memorial Hospital Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Regional Hospital, and Southwest Diagnostic.

13 This deficiency may stem from the fact that the affidavits focus on the plaintiffs and their medical treatment providers. Because they are not Farmers’ own witnesses and may not support Farmers’ theory of defense, Farmers may not be aware of the nature or materiality of their testimony or of potential admissibility issues. Even so, initial disclosures should permit Farmers to provide the trial courts with some guidance regarding what significance it understands the plaintiffs’ witnesses to have. Certainly, Farmers should be able to proffer information about anticipated defense witnesses.

14 See, e.g., Rollinson v. Pergament Acquisition Corp.,643 N.Y.S.2d 91, 91 (N.Y. App. Div. 1996) (noting that the court was “skeptical of any expression of concern by defendant for [the convenience of] plaintiff’s treating physician”); McConville v. Makita U.S.A., Inc., 612 N.Y.S.2d 31, 31 (N.Y. App. Div. 1994) (stating that the convenience of the plaintiff’s witnesses “should be a matter of plaintiff’s, not defendant’s, solicitude”).

15 Farmers’ own characterizations reveal the arbitrariness of a numbers-based approach. Farmers alternately labels a 44.9-mile difference in Mayfield’s case “enormous,” “huge,” and “great,” but then refers to a “mere” 12- and 29-minute difference.

16 Besides, CAPP would not apply to Mayfield’s action in either Boulder County or El Paso County. It is clear from his attorney’s affidavit that Mayfield filed his case in Boulder County District Court to avoid CAPP. But the transferee court, El Paso County Court, is not subject to CAPP either. See supra n.2.

These opinions are not final. They may be modified, changed or withdrawn in accordance with Rules 40 and 49 of the Colorado Appellate Rules. Changes to or modifications of these opinions resulting from any action taken by the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court are not incorporated here.


Lawsuits, Lawsuits, Lawsuits!!

There are so many lawsuits out there against Farmers Insurance and its subsidiaries. This is just one law firms list.  Farmers Insurance is the WORST insurance company in the United States.   -Admin

Below are just a few examples of lawsuits against Farmers Insurance successfully resolved by GJEL Accident Attorneys on behalf of their clients since 2003.


GJEL Accident attorney Andy Gillin represented a 70-year old man injured in a car accident while driving in eastern Alameda County. After being taken to Stanford Hospital with major internal injuries, he made a full recovery of his physical injuries. There was some question, however, as to whether or not the accident had “knocked him into old age” in terms of his vitality, mental functioning, and ongoing fears. Farmers ultimately paid $1,500,000 to settle the case.


In this case, GJEL represented a 22 year-old woman with severe back injuries from a car accident in a vehicle operated by her boyfriend. With police reports, medical evidence, and depositions GJEL showed that the plaintiff did not know about the driver’s intoxication at the time of the accident. GJEL proved that the three back surgeries which plaintiff had following the accident were the result of the collision, rather than any of her pre-existing injuries from her career as a teen skater. The plaintiff recovered in excess of $1.5 million from both State Farm and Farmers.


GJEL helped a chiropractor with severe neck and wrist injuries recover $575,000 following a rear end car accident on Highway 80, on the way to Lake Tahoe. The claimant in this case was insured by Farmers. GJEL Accident Attorneys worked with both of the surgeons who operated on the plaintiff to provide detailed testimony regarding the extent of the injuries, the need for treatment, and the causal relationship between the rear end accident and the need for those surgeries.


GJEL Accident Attorneys recovered $270,000 in a claim involving serious burn injuries to a 23 year-old man. The young man suffered burns to his torso, arms and neck when friends at a barbecue threw denatured alcohol directly onto an open flame. By using a consulting psychologist and also arranging and assisting with a face-to-face meeting between the young man and a Farmers representing, GJEL Accident Attorneys helped communicate the devastating emotional and physical impact of the burn injuries.


In this case from 2003, GJEL attorney Jim Larsen represented the victim of a dog bite in Manteca. Jim Larsen recovered $100,000 for our client in this insurance settlement with Farmers.


GJEL attorneys represented the victim of this auto vs. motorcycle accident that occurred on Mines Road in Pleasanton, California. The accident caused our client to suffer head injuries, broken shoulder, and broken ankle. Although the defendants claimed that our client was speeding, GJEL attorneys used expert testimony to negate this claim. Farmers Insurance paid our client $100,000 to settle his claim.


This was a two-vehicle accident that took place in rural California.  Our client suffered from back pain and dental injuries.  Her insurance company was Mercury and the company for the other person was Farmers.  We were able to settle this case without litigation in the amount of $100,000.

Farmers failed to pay for “diminished value,”

$48.5 Million Settlement Approved in Diminished Value Class Action Lawsuit Against Farmers Insurance Company of Washington

February 4, 2014, Tacoma, WA — Class Counsel for Plaintiffs; Reich and Binstock, LLP, the Law Office of Stephen M. Hansen, the Law Office of Scott P. Nealey, Susman Godfrey LLP, and Lieff Cabraser announced today that Judge Vicki L. Hogan of the Pierce County Superior Court entered a final judgment approving the settlement and dismissing all claims in the action with prejudice in the diminished value class action lawsuit Moeller v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Washington, Case No. 99-2-07850-6 (Pierce County, WA).Plaintiffs alleged that Farmers failed to pay for “diminished value,” which is the loss in value suffered by certain vehicles after they are repaired, in adjusting and settling certain types of collision and comprehensive losses with its insureds. Plaintiffs alleged that Farmers’ failure to pay for diminished value was a breach of contract and a violation of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act. During the litigation, the Washington Supreme Court interpreted the contract to cover diminished value under the collision and comprehensive portions of the policy, as written, and the case was set for trial on August 19, 2013 when it was ultimately resolved. Farmers denies any liability.The settlement resolves all the Class Members Claims against Farmers Ins. Co of Washington (“Farmers”) in exchange for the payment by Farmers of up to $48.5 million. Certain Farmers insureds who were members of the Class and timely submitted valid claims will be entitled to monetary compensation from the settlement.The settlement covered individuals who met the following requirements: (1) they had an automobile insurance policy with Farmers Ins. Co. of Washington, (2) they received payment between May 30, 1993 to September 13, 2002 for an accident involving structural (frame) damage and/or deformed sheet metal and/or where body or paint work was needed, (3) they did not receive payment for diminished value, (4) the repair estimate was at least $1,000, (5) the vehicle was at most six years old, and (6) the vehicle had less than 90,000 miles on it.

Counsel for named plaintiffs and class members are Debra Brewer Hayes of Reich & Binstock, LLP; Stephen M. Hansen of the Law Offices of Stephen M. Hansen, P.S.; Scott P. Nealey of the Law Offices of Scott P. Nealey, Terry Oxford of Susman Godfrey LLP and Michael W. Sobol of Lieff Cabraser.

Farmers Insurance Group racially abuses employees?

Plaintiff, Goodluck Onyeneho, was racially abused,
harassed by Farmers Insurance Group and by the following employees at Farmers: Farmers Insurance Group; Dana Johnson, Brandon Christopher; and Deborah Madden at Defendant’s place of employment, known as agency point, Farmers training facility in Owens Mills, Maryland, where defendant’s, directed and controlled the agent’s
training programs


  • This site is published as a public service to warn consumers of the business practices of Farmers Insurance Group. This site is in no way affiliated, connected with, or sponsored by Farmers Insurance Group or any of its subsidiaries. All content and information on this site is my opinion or the opinion of those referenced. This site is for educational purposes. The information in the Forums or from other people, blogs or web sites are provided at face value, we have not confirmed any of these stories/opinions. Copyrighted material has been used for non-commercial purposes only. By accessing this site you agree to immediately contact us to report any incorrect data or misrepresentations of facts. We are not responsible for accuracy in story content. Individuals, news organizations, companies or government agencies referenced on this web site do not endorse this web site and are not affiliated with it (copyrighted materials used without permission). Links to any other sites are for informational purposes only and should not be considered an endorsement of the site. Copyright 2015 - - All Rights Reserved