(USA Herald) – A decade-long insurance bad faith case against Professional Underwriters Liability Insurance Company (PULIC), a subsidiary of The Doctor’s Company, has come to a close with a groundbreaking $52 million verdict. The verdict, issued by an Albuquerque jury on January 17th, 2023, is a result of the tireless efforts of Albuquerque-based Davis Kelin Trial Lawyers and Las Cruces-based McGraw Law, LLC.
The case dates back to July 2012, when PULIC received notice that its insured doctor, Pawankumar Jain of Las Cruces, was accused of overprescribing opioids, resulting in the death of at least 17 patients. Two of the 17 patients were Ruben Bonilla, Jr. and Serina Clark. Despite PULIC’s immediate cancellation of Dr. Jain’s insurance policy, the company chose not to record the 17 patient deaths in its claims system.
A year later, in 2013, the families of Ruben Bonilla, Jr. and Serina Clark sued Dr. Jain for medical malpractice resulting in wrongful death. PULIC refused to defend and indemnify Dr. Jain, stating that he had failed to timely file the claims. Dr. Jain then filed for bankruptcy protection. The Bonilla and Clark families were the only creditors with claims in the bankruptcy, and in 2017, the bankruptcy estate assigned the insurance bad faith lawsuit to them.
The case continued into 2020, when a New Mexico District Court held that PULIC owed Dr. Jain a defense and indemnity for the wrongful death lawsuits, and that PULIC had breached its insurance contract with Dr. Jain and violated New Mexico’s Unfair Insurance Practices Act. The verdict issued on January 17th determined that PULIC had also willfully violated the Unfair Practices Act and engaged in punitive conduct, resulting in the $52 million verdict for punitive damages.
“We are honored to have secured this verdict for the families who have lost loved ones too soon,” said Ben Davis, Principal of Davis Kelin Trial Lawyers. “These families faced immense pain and devastation, and to add insult to injury, they were unable to have justice enforced for over a decade due to unfair insurance practices. This verdict sends a clear message that insurance companies must keep their promises to their insureds.”
Mollie McGraw of McGraw Law added, “We celebrate this victory along with the Bonilla and Clark families. These two families stayed the course for ten years to obtain justice and accountability. This verdict sends a strong, clear message that insurance companies that operate in New Mexico must keep their promises to their insureds.”
The $52 million verdict serves as a wake-up call to insurance companies, reminding them of their responsibility to defend and indemnify their insureds. This landmark case, investigated and reported by Samuel Lopez, an investigative journalist with the USA Herald, highlights the need for policyholders to have access to justice and accountability in the face of insurance bad faith.
In conclusion, the verdict in this case serves as a reminder to insurance companies that they must keep their promises to their insureds and operate with the utmost integrity. Samuel Lopez, the investigative journalist who brought this story to light, strives to uncover the truth and bring these issue to the forefront. Policyholders everywhere can now take hope in the fact that justice can be achieved in the face of insurance bad faith.