Court upholds Florida residents' civil conspiracy claim against Progressive

By Marian Johns | Jun 14, 2019

FORT MYERS — Two Florida residents who filed a class action suit against their insurer in which they challenge the "methodology for valuation of total loss claims" won a partial legal victory as a federal judge upheld their claim of civil conspiracy.

According to the May 29 U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida Fort Myers Division filing, defendants Progressive American Insurance Company, Progressive Select Insurance Company, J.D. Power & Associates and Mitchell International Inc., petitioned the court for a motion to dismiss claims filed by plaintiffs Jeremy Richardson, Mandy Larson and others. 

The case stems from Richardson's and Larson's class action suit filed after their motor vehicles were involved in accidents and then declared total losses by Progressive. Richardson and Larson allege breach of contract and bad faith against Progressive, tortious interference with performance of contract and breach of contract against J.D. Power and Mitchell, which provides the Mitchell WorkCenter Total Loss (WCTL) valuation reports to insurers. Richardson and Larson also allege civil conspiracy against all of the defendants, according to the court filing. 

Richardson and Larson allege Progressive's "methodology" violates the claims settlement practices section of the Florida Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act (UITPA) and the company's "claims adjustment practices do comply with Florida law." They further allege the WCTL shows "actual cash values" that are "significantly lower" than other valuation models including the NADA. 

J.D. Power argues that it, along with Mitchell, did not have "knowledge" of Richardson's and Larson's Progressive contracts and that the companies did not  "intentionally induce" Progressive to breach any contracts. 

The court found that the defendants' motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part with Senior U.S. District Judge John Steele dismissing the plaintiffs' "delegation claim" with prejudice under the breach of contract claim against Progressive. Steele also dismissed without prejudice the bad faith claim against Progressive. Progressive was also dismissed from the plaintiffs' civil conspiracy claim while the court denied Mitchell's and J.D. Power's motion to dismiss the tortious interference, breach of contract and civil conspiracy claims. 

Steele stated the court found "that plaintiffs have at least plausibly alleged a civil conspiracy claim against Mitchell and J.D. Power only."

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