Indiana Appeals Court affirms $14.5 million verdict against State Farm in defamation case

Jury awarded verdict in 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a $14.5 million verdict awarded to a contractor who sued State Farm in a defamation case in a 61-page ruling released on Thursday.

Joseph Radcliff and CPM Construction sued the insurer for defamation after the company claimed that he had committed insurance fraud during the April 2006 hailstorm that damaged several areas in central Indiana, generating nearly 50,000 State Farm claims.

State Farm had claimed that Radcliff and his company intentionally damaged shingles after the storm, costing the company $1.75 million, but The Marion County Prosecutor's Office dropped charges against him in 2009.

In 2011, a Hamilton County jury reached its decision against State Farm.

"The opinion notes that State Farm's appellant's brief says the damage award is one of the largest defamation awards in U.S. history," Martin DeAgostino, communications director for the Indiana Court of Appeals, said in a news release.

After the appeals court decision, the case could move on to the Indiana Supreme Court.

Radcliff's attorney, Joe Williams, said he is "happy that the Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the jury's $14.5 million defamation verdict."

A State Farm representative said the company is "disappointed in the ruling of the court and is considering its options."

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Follow Rafael Sanchez on Twitter: @rafaelontv

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