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Court orders insurers to pay $3 million to ex-shop owner

Friday, June 15, 2012 - 09:15
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A Providence County (R.I.) Superior Court jury returned a verdict of more than $3.27 million, including interest, against two of the country's largest automobile insurance providers May 29. 


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Finding that Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company (Met Life) and AMICA Mutual Insurance had acted with "malice" and "bad faith," the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, David F. Miller, the former auto body shop operator of Miller's Auto Body in Cumberland, R.I. 

The jury found that the two insurance companies had instigated the filing of criminal charges brought against Miller by the Rhode Island State Police in 2002. At the time, Miller was charged with obtaining monies under false pretenses and insurance fraud.  However, all the charges against Miller were dismissed by the Office of Attorney General when it became clear that AMICA and Met Life had helped instigate the charges, and had withheld documents that would have undermined the case against him, according to the law offices of Michael A. Kelly, which represented Miller.
 
When he was arrested in 2002, Miller was handcuffed in his shop in front of customers and his children.
 
"I hope that the jury's decision will give more individuals and small business owners who have been wronged by corporate behemoths like AMICA or Met Life the courage to keep fighting against their corrupt tactics," said Miller after the decision.  "It may have taken me years to defend my reputation, rebuild my business and prove that I did no wrong, but this verdict vindicates me."
 
"The jury's verdict brings the real wrong-doers in this case - Met Life and AMICA - to justice," he added. 
 
In its decision, the jury found that AMICA and Met life had acted "with such willfulness, wickedness, or recklessness that amounts to criminality, which for the good of society and warning to the defendant, ought to be punished."

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