In December 2002, a downtown Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded $156 million in compensatory damages to a group of 700 doctors against Norcal Mutual Insurance Company located in Southern California. This compensatory damages award — more than $100 million more than requested of the jury by the plaintiffs — was intended to compensate plaintiffs for Norcal's fraudulent, misleading conduct. The trial, which took place in Los Angeles County Superior Court, required more than one month of testimony and two days of jury deliberations. The case was ultimately settled by the parties before the jury decided on plaintiffs' punitive damage claim. Jerome Ringler and his partner served as trial counsel in the matter.
In 1982, the plaintiffs formed Physicians Interindemnity Trust to handle their medical malpractice claims. In 1995, the trust agreed to purchase malpractice insurance from Norcal for approximately $140 million over seven years. As part of the agreement, Norcal agreed to rebate a portion of premiums from these new policies so as to afford plaintiffs the financial capability to pay any outstanding claims, and so as to induce plaintiffs to purchase the insurance from Norcal.
Without this inducement (the rebate of premiums), the plaintiffs would never have entered into the agreement with Norcal, for absent the rebate of the premiums, plaintiffs would have been required to pay twice the amount for malpractice coverage, which plaintiffs could not afford. Moreover, and most importantly, plaintiffs relied on Norcal's representation that the insurance sold would cover their claims. However, Norcal had information that showed it would not cover the anticipated claims plaintiffs were insuring. In fact, plaintiffs gained access to an internal audit prepared by Norcal stating that up to $60 million, rather than $30 million as suggested by Norcal, would be necessary to resolve plaintiffs' outstanding claims.
As a result of Norcal's misrepresentations, plaintiffs were unable to pay their outstanding claims and the trust they created was required to file for bankruptcy.
As stated by Mr. Jerome Ringler in an article published by the National Law Journal, "every witness and every document added in a cumulative way to show that at all times the defendants knew their representations were false and misleading."
As with many other verdicts and settlements achieved by Mr. Jerome Ringler, there were multiple articles in the news and press about this litigation. Ringler Law Corporation's website reflects some of these articles as recounted in the local news media. To learn more about Ringler Law Corporation's efforts on behalf of the plaintiffs in this particular matter, please read the article dated December 23, 2002, from the National Law Journal.
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