Marc Zimet Defends Farmers Agent at Trial

Marc Zimet obtained a defense verdict after a week-long jury trial in downtown Los Angeles. Plaintiffs’ auto insurance agent for over ten years procured a $100,000/$300,000 policy for them. The plaintiffs were involved in an auto accident, hit a pedestrian, and the pedestrian sued the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs’ auto insurance carrier defended the plaintiffs in the underlying lawsuit. The carrier also paid its policy limit, $100,000, towards a $325,000 settlement. The plaintiffs paid the additional $225,000 themselves. Plaintiffs sued their agent for breach of contract and negligence, claiming the agent should have obtained higher auto limits and an umbrella policy.

Plaintiffs, hoping for emotional distress and prospective economic loss damages, never demanded less than $795,000 prior to trial. However, during trial, Marc Zimet was able to exclude all evidence of emotional distress and prospective economic loss damages, limiting the plaintiffs, at most, to $225,000. The firm was also able to convince the judge to give the jury a special instruction on an agent’s “limited duty” to use reasonable care in procuring the insurance requested. At trial, plaintiffs admitted they never asked for more than $100,000 in insurance and never asked for an umbrella policy. Plaintiffs testified they completely relied on the agent, and plaintiffs’ standard of care expert opined that a “special relationship” was created with the agent. The jury, however, discounted the testimony of the plaintiffs’ expert that the agent had to counsel and advise the plaintiffs on risk exposure and other available insurance coverages. Marc convinced the jury that the plaintiffs’ expert was setting his own standard, rather than the general standard required by the law. In the end, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of our client.