Insured says State Farm denied claim based on race

Ann Knef Feb. 5, 2008, 3:45am

Roderick Richards alleges State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. is denying his auto fire loss claim because of his race.

According to a civil suit filed Jan. 30 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, State Farm denied Richards' claim on a 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan which burned in a fire Oct. 14, 2007. Richards claims he has complied with terms of his policy, but "Defendant refuses to pay plaintiff."

"Upon information and belief, defendant is targeting African American individuals in denying legitimate claims under similar insurance policies," the complaint states.

Richards, represented by Benjamin F. Goldenhersh of Goldenhersh & Goldenhersh of Belleville, is seeking compensatory damages, attorney's fees, costs and 60 percent of the amount of compensatory damages.

He also indicates he will amend his complaint to include punitive damages.

Richards claims State Farm has "embarked on a lengthy and exhaustive investigation into the circumstances of the unfortunate loss."

"Plaintiff has done everything he could reasonably do to cooperate, regarding securing and giving defendant evidence, and has not made any false statements with the intent to conceal or misrepresent any material fact or circumstance in connection with his claim," the complaint states.

"A State Farm agent questioned plaintiff at great length with regard to the loss, and plaintiff even gave a statement under oath to State Farm's attorney. Plaintiff answered all questions to the best of his ability."

Richards claims State Farm has no policy defenses.

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