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Insurer liable for breach, bad faith after roof collapse

$3.3 million verdict

Action: Breach of contract, bad faith

Injuries alleged: Property damage

Case name: One to One Ministries, Inc. v. Penn-America Insurance Company

Court/case no.: Orangeburg County Circuit Court/No. 2020-CP-38-01274

Jury and/or judge: Jury/Judge Maite Murphy

Amount: $3.3 million

Date: March 23, 2023

Attorneys: Justin Lucey of Lucey Law in Mount Pleasant (for the plaintiff)

One to One Ministries, located at 1396 Russel Street in Orangeburg, suffered a partial roof collapse on May 20, 2020, and filed a claim with Penn-America Insurance Company.

Penn-America denied the claim and One to One filed a breach of insurance contract and bad faith claims processing and denial action.

At the time of the collapse, the building was insured for $560,000 and $50,000 in business personal property coverage.

One to One alleged that Penn-America refused to share its coverage concerns during the investigation and then denied the claim even though Penn-America’s engineering report contained facts which indicated that the roof collapse claim should be covered under the policy.

One to One also asserted that without the insurance funds, it was unable to rebuild the sanctuary or protect the rest of the property, which suffered further damage as it lay open to the elements.

One of the issues in the case was the role of a truss which had been modified in the partial roof collapse. One to One was able to show that the modified truss had lasted 30 years before it failed, and that it was the progressive deterioration of the roof structure that had caused the collapse. A collapse due to construction activities and deterioration was covered under the policy.

One to One also demonstrated that Penn-America failed to consider several other causes contributing to the cause.

After a four-day trial, the jury sided with One to One, awarding $1 million on the breach of insurance policy claim, $300,000 on the bad faith claim and $2 million in punitive damages.





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