Judge Nicholas Byron will preside over a case management conference in Bonnie M. Lancey v. Country Mutual Insurance et.al., a class action case which accuses the insurance company of fraud and breach of contract, Oct. 27 at 9 a.m.

Plaintiff Bonnie Lancey from Madison County alleges that Country Company shortchanges customers whose vehicles have been totaled in an accident. She claims that Country Mutual uses a software program that is fraudulent to avoid paying the actual cash value of a totaled vehicle. Lancey is seeking damages no more than $75,000 per class member, plus reasonable attorney fees

Chicago-based CCC sells software that insurance companies use to track claims and set valuations. The company had been named as a defendant in 13 class action cases in Madison County. CCC was dismissed without prejudice from this case in January of 2003.

In October 2000, Lancey was in a car accident in which her 1994 Chevrolet Corsica was badly damaged.

After the accident, she submitted a property damage claim for her Corsica to Country Mutual, which was declared a total loss. Based on the CCC valuation report, Country Mutual valued her car at $3,400.

She claims that Country Mutual and CCC knew that amount was below the actual cash value.

Lancey’s attorney, Jeffery A.J. Millar of the Lakin Law Firm, also states in the complaint that Country Mutual postured that it had obtained an “independent” valuation of Lancey’s Corsica, yet the insurer knew that CCC’s report was biased and was designed to reduce Country Mutual's payout.

Millar also states in the complaint he filed on Jan. 29, 2001, that CCC sold its valuation product to Country Mutual by promising before CCC reviews any claims that they would reduce Country payout claims.

Lancey claims at the time she purchased her policy, Country Mutual failed to disclose the use of biased CCC valuation reports to reduce total loss claims payouts, and the use of internal incentives to reduce the amount Country Mutual paid on first-party claims.

Country Mutual is represented by Dominique N. Seymoure of the Reed Armstrong firm of Edwardsville.

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