After a five day trial and four hour deliberation, on November 22, 2010, a Harris County jury in the 61st Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas. Judge Al Bennett presiding, found AIG insurer The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania and its third-party claims administrator, Gallagher Bassett, committed violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and that Gallagher Bassett committed violations of the Insurance Code in the wrongful delay and denial of on-the-job injury benefits to Sue Ann Stinson. Ms. Stinson, an international flight attendant for Continental Airlines at the time of her injury, was forced to leave her career and is now faced with an serious spinal condition in her neck due to the insurer and its adjusters delay of medical care at the time prescribed by her treating physicians.
In addition to assessing $759,000 in actual damages incurred by Ms. Stinson, the jurors found Gallagher Bassett’s “knowing” violation of the law required $1,000,000 in additional “knowing” violation damages against it.
Ms. Stinson has had a long fight for justice, as her case was initially dismissed in error before the first trial setting in 2007, allegedly for a lack of jurisdiction to proceed with her insurance bad faith case after prevailing before the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission (now the Texas Department of Insurance Department of Worker’s Compensation). The Houston Court of Appeals corrected this error, and the Texas Supreme Court rejected the defendants’ attempt to support the wrongful dismissal. Ms. Stinson was finally able to present to a jury the long path of obstacles to her recovery and return to work by the AIG insurer and its adjusters, despite her clearly recognized injury witnessed by several hundred United States Marines en route to the Middle East on a Continental military charter flight. The jurors found that the AIG insurer and its adjusters at Gallagher Bassett acted in an “unconscionable” manner, and that Gallagher Bassett’s knowing violations of the Texas Insurance Code in failing to pay when reasonably clear caused tremendous legal damages to Ms. Stinson.