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Entries in Progressive (1)

Wednesday
Aug152012

Did Insurance Company Progressive Defend Policyholder's Killer?

Joe Robbins/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The brother of a woman who was killed in car accident is accusing her insurance company of defending the person he said is her killer in an insurance legal dispute, including calling a witness to the stand against her.

Kaitlynn Fisher, who had engineering degrees from Johns Hopkins University, died in a car accident on June 19, 2010 in Baltimore after another driver ran a red light.  She was 24.

On Monday, Matthew Fisher, 33, her brother and a comedian based in Brooklyn, published a blog post, saying the insurance company Progressive "refused to pay the policy to my sister's estate."

Fisher wrote that "someday when you have your accident, I promise that there will be enough wiggle room for Progressive's bottomless stack of in-house attorneys to make a court case out of it and to hammer at that court case until you or your surviving loved ones run out of money."

Chris Wolf, a claims general manager with Progressive, offered a statement to ABC News, saying, "foremost, our deepest sympathies go out to Kaitlynn Fisher's family."

"To be very clear, Progressive did not serve as the attorney for the defendant in this case.  He was defended by his insurance company, Nationwide," Wolf said in the statement.  "There was a question as to who was at fault, and a jury decided in the Fisher family's favor just last week.  We respect the verdict and now can continue to work with the Fisher family to reach a resolution."

A spokesman for Progressive declined to comment further.

Fisher fired back against Progressive's statement in another blog post Tuesday night, saying Progressive's attorney not only sat next to the other driver during the trial, but conferred with the defendant "in and out of the courtroom."

"He gave an opening statement to the jury, in which he proposed the idea that the defendant should not be found negligent in the case.  He cross-examined all of the plaintiff's witnesses," Fisher said in a statement Tuesday evening.  "On direct examination, he questioned all of the defense's witnesses.  He made objections on behalf of the defendant, and he was a party to the argument of all of the objections heard in the case.  After all of the witnesses had been called, he stood before the jury and gave a closing argument, in which he argued that my sister was responsible for the accident that killed her, and that the jury should not decide that the defendant was negligent."

"I am comfortable characterizing this as a legal defense," he continued.

In his blog post, Fisher said that he doesn't "discount the possibility that Katie was at fault in the accident, but it never really looked that way."  He said a witness stated that "Katie had the light."

The jury awarded the Fishers $760,000 and Progressive will have to pay at minimum $100,000, the amount on Kaitlynn's policy, within 30 days.

Fisher and a family spokeswoman directed ABC News to their attorney, Allen W. Cohen.

Cohen said while Progressive's claim is technically correct that they did not serve as an attorney for the defendant, "Progressive did everything in their power to show that their own insured did something wrong.  They were fighting against the person who paid them premiums."

That included calling a witness to the stand who claimed that Kaitlynn ran a red light.

"Maryland law requires that an insurance company act in good faith as it works with its own insured," Cohen said, but "we question the good faith behavior of Progressive."

Because of that question of "good faith," Cohen said the family is exploring avenues of additional damages.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio