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No-Cause Verdict in $100 Million Coverage Case Affirmed

A Hodgson Russ team led by Kevin Szczepanski won a no-cause jury verdict for one of the world's largest insurance companies in a $100-million coverage case. The victory came in what was New Jersey's first coverage trial in a decade.

One of the largest roofing manufacturers in the country had filed suits against dozens of insurers seeking coverage for sums paid to settle customers' claims for defective shingles. All but one insurer settled or was dismissed; the remaining insurer wanted our team to take its case to the jury. Our trial team showed the jury that the settlements the company paid its customers simply weren't something our client could pay for under its insurance policy. Our team also offered proof the company lied to its customers about its defective shingles.

After a seven-week trial, the jury returned a no-cause verdict, saving our client more than $100 million. An appellate court later affirmed the jury verdict and judgment, holding that the roofing manufacturer had failed to prove its damages in payments made to settle customers’ claims for defective shingles was covered by its insurance policy. In addition to holding that the manufacturer had failed to carry its burden of proof, the appellate court also affirmed the trial judge’s spoliation charge, required by the company’s altering of the evidence used to calculate its alleged damages and its partial, pre-verdict dismissal of its bad-faith claims, which would have increased damages to more than $100 million.