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Jury Awards Over $1.3 million to Man Whose Home Was Flooded by Vandals

March 23, 2017 – Los Angeles, CA – A homeowner in Torrance was awarded $1 million in punitive damages plus over $300,000 for compensatory damages by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury which ruled that Ameriprise was guilty of insurance bad faith after it refused to make repairs to a home that had been flooded and damaged by vandals.  Ameriprise Insurance (also known as IDS Property and Casualty Company) is generally sold through Costco stores and on line.

Steven Lopez is a single father of five and homeowner who lives in Torrance.  In September 2013, Mr. Lopez’s home was burglarized; in addition to thieves stealing a significant amount of personal property they turned the water on in the upstairs bathroom which caused flooding throughout the house.

Mr. Lopez had a homeowner’s insurance policy with Ameriprise that covered the burglary and the water damage. After making a claim on his insurance policy, Ameriprise acted in bad faith. Within a week of his claim, Mr. Lopez’s insurance company started a fraud investigation in spite of a police report detailing the nature of the theft.  During the trial – and three years, six months and 11 days after the damage – Ameriprise paid more than $60,000 claiming they just realized the house sustained more damage.

“I purchased insurance so that they’d be there for me when I needed them,” said Mr. Lopez. “My family and I suffered through a break in, the theft of so many possessions and complete destruction of my house. Ameriprise only made it worse for us.”

The lawsuit claimed Ameriprise only paid for minimal water damage, mold remediation, insufficient repairs and initially refused to pay for the family to live elsewhere while the claim was adjusted and repairs performed. After living out of the home for months, even though Ameriprise did not pay enough for Mr. Lopez to do the scope of repairs his expert called for, he had no choice but to patch his home back together and return.  Lopez had to initially hire a special property insurance attorney Evangeline Grossman to force Ameriprise to resolve the claim.

“It’s unbelievable how my client was treated,” said his trial attorney Brian Kabateck. “This is a hard working man trying to be a good father and Ameriprise was working overtime to deny his claim without any proof or justification. The company ignored police reports, my client’s own statements and the evidence in this case, and it proved a hardship to Mr. Lopez and his entire family.”

The case is Steven Lopez v IDS Ameriprise, Los Angeles Superior Court, Case o. BC605264.