Doyle Raizner has filed a workers’ comp bad faith case against Gallagher Bassett and Ace American Insurance on behalf of an injured worker whose claim for benefits was wrongfully denied and unreasonably delayed. Ace American Insurance issued the workers’ comp insurance coverage under the Arizona Workers’ Compensation Act. Gallagher Bassett adjusts insurance claims on behalf of Ace American under the same act.
The plaintiff was injured in the scope and course of his employment in 2011, when another vehicle hit at a high rate of speed the truck he was driving. The collision resulted in traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic headaches, post-concussion syndrome, chest injuries, cervical spine injuries, among other injuries.
The plaintiff’s claim for benefits was initially accepted by Ace American and Gallagher Bassett. However, Ace American and Gallagher Bassett began to ignore their obligation to timely and appropriately approve reasonable and necessary medical treatment recommended by the plaintiff’s treating physician. Due to the denial of timely benefit payments to which the plaintiff was entitled, an attorney was hired to help secure the workers’ compensation benefits. A final and binding order was issued by the Industrial Commission of Arizona and required Ace American and Gallagher Bassett to provide the treatments. The commission noted the carrier had no evidence to controvert the plaintiff’s right to treatment and had not even bothered to appear to attempt to justify its wrongful conduct.
Ace American, as the plaintiff’s workers’ compensation insurer, breached their duty of good faith and fair dealing by refusing to properly investigate and effectively denying necessary medical care and other benefits, without any reasonable basis to do so. Gallagher Bassett acts and omissions were performed by it in its individual capacity and as an agent for Ace American. Gallagher Bassett knew the claim was not fairly debatable and substantially assisted or encouraged Ace American in delaying or denying the claim without a reasonable basis.
Ace American and Gallagher Bassett placed unnecessary
Doyle Raizner has filed suit against DynCorp International on behalf of an injured military contractor serving in Afghanistan. The plaintiff was injured when an employee of DynCorp made an unsafe and improper U-turn along a main route of Camp Davis and rammed into a portable laundry container in which she was stationed.
DynCorp International identifies itself as a “global government services provider in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives.” The company also claims to “provide expertly conceived and professionally executed services.” As confirmed by the subsequent investigation, the collision was caused by the inattentive driving of DynCorp’s employee and was listed as drug/alcohol related. The collision resulted in serious injuries to the plaintiff which required medical treatment in the past and will require future medical care.
DynCorp’s acts constitute negligence in that the company, acting through its employee, failed to act in a reasonably prudent manner and violated laws and statutes of the United States. The company also acted in a way that constitutes gross negligence. DynCorp had knowledge of the risk involved at the time of the occurrences and proceeded with conscious indifference to the rights, safety and welfare of others resulting in the injury of the plaintiff.
Doyle Raizner stands behind their client in the fight against a military service provider more interested in profits than honoring an obligation to safety.
Doyle Raizner has filed suit against Central United Life Insurance on behalf of a policyholder whose cancer treatment was denied. The policyholder had purchased a cancer insurance policy long before her diagnosis of breast cancer and continued to pay the premiums during her treatment and recovery.
Upon receiving the policyholder’s claim for benefits, Central United failed to assign her claim to an adjuster and failed to even research or request any information reasonably required to adequately investigate her claim further. The company did not conduct a reasonable and objective investigation of the facts of the claim. Further, Central United ignored medical evidence, including records from the treating doctors, and failed to collect or analyze other evidence related to the claim for insurance benefits.
In 2011, the company completely denied the claim for insurance benefits under a policy which expressly provided comprehensive coverage in the event of a cancer diagnosis. The plaintiff had maintained the policy in full force and effect by timely payment of insurance premiums for more than a decade.
Central United violated the Texas Insurance Code by refusing to pay the claim without conducting a reasonable investigation with respect to the claim. This conduct also breached the duty to deal fairly and in good faith with the policyholder. Central United acted fraudulently in denying the coverage benefits.
Doyle Raizner stands behind this policyholder in their fight against an insurance company’s bad behavior and failure to honor their financial obligation.
One of several motions heard by Judge Papak last month in Oregon Federal Court involved yet another attempt to lash out at the attorneys who proudly represent the veterans of Qarmat Ali. A jury awarded a bellwether group of twelve of the 162 veterans a total $85.2 million in November for KBR’s misconduct in exposing the veterans to sodium dichromate. With an award of nearly $7.1 million for each veteran, KBR’s own potential financial exposure to the remaining Veterans exceeds $1 billion if the remaining verdicts remain consistent with the bellwether trial verdict. Click here to read a synopsis of that trial and verdict.
Having lost the trial in front of an Oregon jury, KBR and its counsel have continued to try and shift blame for misconduct everywhere but towards their own actions. The topic at the center of the latest legal wrangling brought on by KBR’s attorneys concerns the limited ‘gag order’, generally restricting the parties’ rights to comment to the verdict. The order was effective throughout the trial, partially lifted after the verdict, and then fully lifted on December 19, 2012.
KBR complained about a post-trial email communication featuring plaintiffs’ attorney Mike Doyle. The email contained an embedded video narrated by Doyle and referenced the jury verdict. KBR argued the video violated the limited ‘gag order’. The email was distributed by Trial Guides, a commercial publisher of various legal guides and commentaries, and a link to the video can be found here.
Judge Papak rejected KBR’s latest attacks, confirming that the “statements were clearly not in violation of the previously imposed restrictive order”, and the communication “disclosed no information material to the parties’ dispute not already in the public record.”
Doyle Raizner LLP has obtained evidence regarding the termination of frequent insurance consultant and former Harris County District Attorney’s Office Investigator Dustin Deutsch. The information was obtained in response to a discovery request subpoena served upon the DA’s office. The official document is from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. Deutsch was appointed as a peace officer as his role as a DA’s Office investigator. Despite this appointment, insurance companies like State Farm employed GulfTex to assist in the denial of insurance claims.
The date of the separation was February 8, 2013; just three days after Chron.com published a story detailing the charges against Deutsch’s partner in GulfTex Services, Lonnie Blevins. On February 12, 2013, Chron.com reported an update to the original story revealing Deutsch was also under criminal investigation and that the DA’s office had halted all criminal cases the pair investigated.
The dishonorable discharge designation includes two options for the separation of the license holder: (A) was terminated by a law enforcement agency or retired or resigned in lieu of termination by the agency in relation to allegations of criminal misconduct; or (B) was terminated by a law enforcement agency or retired or resigned in lieu of termination by the agency for insubordination or untruthfulness.
Doyle Raizner is currently involved in litigation against GulfTex Services due to a wrongful denial of a policyholder’s claim by State Farm based on their erroneous recommendation. We will continue to monitor this situation and blog any updates.
There is further news in the sordid circumstances of GulfTex Services and its principals, former Harris County District Attorney’s Office investigators Lonnie Blevins and Dustin Deutsch. According to documents submitted by State Farm as evidence in a bad faith case our firm is handling, GulfTex received payments totaling $949,448 from State Farm since 2007. Through GulfTex, Blevins and Deutsch investigated fire losses for insurance companies and have been paid by State Farm for at least 228 claims since 2007.
Despite the important role that he played for both the insurance industry and Harris County, Blevins has been charged with interstate transfer of property he stole during an investigation, and both men remain under federal and criminal investigations. Both were suspended from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for their misconduct. Dustin Deutsch was dishonorably discharged. Click here for background on the pending charges and the ramifications for criminal cases the pair were involved in.
Both Deutsch and Blevins are involved in a Doyle Raizner lawsuit against State Farm arising out of a denied fire claim. Our client submitted a claim for a fire that completely destroyed her home and State Farm assigned Deutsch as an investigator. Deutsch advised State Farm the fire was caused by arson even though the state fire marshal found no evidence of arson and no charges were ever filed against any individual in connection. The policyholder’s claim was denied due to erroneous information ginned up by Deutsch and Blevins in order to assist State Farm in an improper claims denial.
Our client’s claim was filed in 2011, the same year that GulfTex received the highest payments for the most claims, according to evidence produced by State Farm’s attorneys. In 2011, GulfTex received $228,731 for 50 claims. The shocking revelation that State Farm paid these men nearly $1 million to assist in the denial of valid claims highlights a shameful side of how so many insurance companies
The Department of Veterans Affairs has released information pertaining to the registries for chromium exposure at Qarmat Ali water treatment facility. The registry is important for continued health monitoring for veterans who may served at Qarmat Ali and have current health conditions or may develop conditions in the future.
Veterans who served at Qarmat Ali and the Gulf War should also participate in the Gulf War registry. Veterans who participate in the program will receive an initial exam, chest X-ray and pulmonary function test. The results will be tracked in the VA’s Gulf War Registry.
Important points about registry health exams:
Free to eligible Veterans and no co-payment
Not a disability compensation exam or required for other VA benefits
Enrollment in VA’s health care system not necessary
Based on Veterans’ recollection of service, not on their military records
Veterans can receive additional registry exams, if new problems develop
Veterans should contact their local program manager to make an appointment to enroll In the VA Qarmat Ali Medical Surveillance Program. Click here for a team locator.
We encourage all veterans who served at Qarmat Ali to join these registries. A burn pit registry is also being created. The registry was part of an improvement act signed on January 10, 2013, and gives the VA one year from signing to create the burn pit registry. We will continue to share updates as they develop.
A former Veterans Affairs researcher testified before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs this week about the organization’s efforts to minimize research that supports claims of Gulf War Illness and illness from burn pit exposure.
Steven Coughlin was an epidemiologist in the VA’s public health department until he resigned over a request to retract his claims concerning the concealed information and admit he had made a mistake. Coughlin also said “if the studies produce results that do not support the office of public health’s unwritten policy, they do not release them. “ He also testified about a panel of outside experts hired to study neurological connections to Gulf War illness for the Institute of Medicine. Coughlin maintains the panel was stacked in favor of those who believe Gulf War illness is psychological rather than neurological. Coughlin added “anything that supports the position that Gulf War illness is a neurological condition is unlikely to ever be published.”
Coughlin’s allegations were countered by Victoria Davey, chief officer of VA’s office of public health and environmental hazards. Davey never directly addressed the accusations levied against the VA but talked about the “cutting-edge” research the VA has conducted.
Coughlin was backed by Lea Steele, a researcher at the Veterans Health Research Program at Baylor University who said the VA has not managed an effective program. Steele echoed Coughlin when she said “studies consistently show Gulf War illness is not due to war trauma.”
Steele referenced the panel Coughlin viewed as stacked in favor of Gulf War illness as a psychological illness. The panel studied veterans from the past 20 years rather than a segment of Gulf War veterans. The symptoms of this broad group were lumped together so that neither cause nor treatment for “chronic multisymptom illness” could be found. Steele likened this to “medical malpractice”.
A Gulf War veteran and appointed member of the Congressionally Directed Gulf War Illness Research Medical Program,
Doyle Raizner is happy to announce Jeff Avery will be joining the firm as an associate attorney. Jeff is a member of the California State Bar, and is anxiously awaiting his Texas Bar results.
Jeff graduated from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California with a Bachelor of Arts in history and political science. He received his Juris Doctor from UCLA Law School where he was the managing editor of the Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs.
Jeff has experience in many aspects of civil litigation including business litigation and employment litigation. He was a law clerk for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office in the Employment Litigation Division. Prior to that, he was an extern for the Honorable Oliver W. Wanger of the United States District Court, Eastern District of California.
Most recently, Jeff has been with the Houston-based firm O’Donnell, Ferebee, Medley & Keiser as a postgraduate law clerk.
We are happy to have Jeff join our firm and excited for his future endeavors.
On May 22, 2011, Sister Therese Cecilia Huong Do was killed in an accident when a drunk driver ran a stop sign while speeding. Sister Therese Cecilia was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital where she died the next day. The driver was not injured. After refusing to take a breath test, blood was drawn and revealed a blood alcohol content of .20, which is more than twice the legal limit of .08.
Doyle Raizner was asked to assist on a volunteer basis the Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate Province in dealing with the civil and criminal legal matters arising from the tragic loss of Sister Therese Cecilia, a member of the Order for over 13 years before her death. Aside from helping deal with the massive medical bills and insurance issues arising from the loss of Sister Therese Cecilia, Doyle Raizner’s attorneys also assisted in efforts of the Sisters to reach out to the driver and provide testimony at the criminal trial.
The Sisters of the Order worked with the driver to encourage his spiritual and moral growth from this terrible tragedy, and Doyle Raizner was honored to guide and assist with these efforts.