A good reason for tort reform

7 Feb

A Macon County jury awarded a woman one-point-six billion dollars in an insurance fraud lawsuit. The woman, Carolyn Whittaker, claimed she was defrauded by Southwestern Life Insurance Company and its employee, James Richard Perry.

On Wednesday, the jury found that Perry had collected insurance policy payments from Whittaker on a policy that had lapsed in 1996. Whittaker called the jury's decision — "a blessing." Attempts to reach both Southwestern and Perry for comment late yesterday were unsuccessful. Whittaker attorney Jock M. Smith of Montgomery says Whittaker is unlikely to collect the entire one-point-six billion. Southwestern Life and Perry have up to 30 days to ask for a new trial, but that if they don't get one, they'll have 42 days to seek an appeal. The jury ruled Perry and Southwestern Life each must pay 800 million in punitive damages and ten million dollars in compensatory damages.

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