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Harry J. O’Connor, a claimant in multiple Tiffany Lamp property claims over the past several years (no comment!), tried another type of insurance claim. And this time it just didn’t pay off.
O’Connor, an Orange County (CA) real estate developer, alleged that his asthsma was so severe he was unable to perform his job duties. Between 1989 and 1996, O’Connor collected $623,000 in disability benefits from his insurance carrier, UnumProvident. At issue was O’Connor’s claimed inability to perform his job. His asthsma was so bad, he said, that he could not walk around real estate job sites, lift heavy materials or do manual labor. Video surveillance indicated otherwise, so UP fought back and took the case to a jury. O’Connor’s plight was not helped when the Unum lawyer brought in three of O’Connor’s ex-girlfriends, his ex-wife and his estranged 21-year-old daughter.
In a rather stunning fraud verdict, the jury decided that O’Connor was guilty of insurance fraud and UP was entitled to restitution of their $623,000. More important, however, was the award of $800,000 in punitive damages against O’Connor, perhaps the first of its kind in a disability fraud case.
A special thumbs up to attorney David A. Lingenbrink (of Galton & Helm) who tried the case on behalf of UnumProvident.
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