• February 11, 2013
House Fire at Night by John M. Cropper

House Fire at Night by John M. Cropper

Steven and Lynn Hackbarth’s home went down in flames.  They sought State Farm insurance coverage for the loss; State Farm paid the Hackbarths nearly $700,000 in coverage.

Did the Hackbarths really think that State Farm owed them even more money?  Is that why they sued State Farm for more?  Or, having an inkling that State Farm was going to go after the Hackbarths for “after a loss, willfully and with intent to defraud; conceal[ing] or misrepresent[ing] any material fact or circumstance,” did the Hackbarths think they would have a strategic advantage in suing first, before being sued themselves?

Only the Hackbarths and their lawyers know for sure, I suppose.

But if they sincerely thought they should sue State Farm for more money, and if that decision precipitated investigation that otherwise would not have occurred, the strategy backfired horribly.  Not only did the Hackbarths lose their claim, but State Farm counterclaimed and will be seeking return of the money it already paid out.

After losing their jury trial, the Hackbarth’s still tried to get their attorneys’ fees paid for under Minn. Stat. § 604.18.   Seriously?

Finally, though I have a general policy of not discussing my own cases on Minnesota Litigator, I myself got a hard lesson this past week that I did not really need:  going to trial is inherently risky.  Begrudging congratulations to my adversaries: attorneys Barry O’Neil and Bryan Feldhaus of the Lommen Abdo firm.

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