Practice Area

Arson-Fraud Litigation

Insurance fraud, whether it be arson or other fraudulent scheme, is a major concern to the public in general, and to the insurance industry in particular. Fraudulent claims result in increased premiums to honest consumers and can undermine the insurance process. Since its inception more than 20 years ago, the Brown & James Arson-Fraud Practice Group has been a leader in litigating arson and fraud claims on the insurance industry’s behalf.

The lawyers in the Arson-Fraud Practice Group have tried more than 200 cases to verdict, including receiving the largest arson-fraud related verdict ever in Missouri. From the first notice of loss to the conclusion of a claim, the lawyers in the Arson-Fraud Practice Group guide and counsel claims personnel to successful resolution of arson and fraud claims. The group’s lawyers take examinations under oath, provide coverage opinions, draft reservation of rights letters and advance payment agreements. They also recommend experts in the field of cause and origin, structural engineering, chemistry and other disciplines involved in arson and fraud claims.

In addition, the group’s lawyers are leaders in educating the insurance industry and local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies about insurance fraud. The group publishes a comprehensive treatise, Arson, Fraud and First-Party Insurance Law, which is relied on by insurance professionals nationwide. The group also reports cases, legal updates and events of significance to the firm’s clients in a quarterly newsletter. In addition, they serve as facilitators for the International Association of Arson Investigators Courtroom Technology Project and are involved in training various government and private arson task forces throughout the Midwest.

Recent Cases

  • Successfully defended insurer in three-day trial in fire insurance fraud case. Couple claimed $115,000 in losses, and jury returned a defense verdict giving them nothing. Farm Bureau Town & Country Ins. Co. of Missouri v. Shipman (Lawrence County Circuit Court)
  • Obtained declaratory judgment on behalf of insurer in restaurant fire case. Evidence the fire was intentionally set helped return the judgment and special damages that included attorneys’ fees. Depositors Ins. Co. v. Hall’s Restaurant, Inc. (U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri)
  • Obtained verdict in favor of insurer client in case of residence fire. The evidence indicated fraud and loss inflation. Farm Bureau Town & Country Ins. Co. of Missouri v. Dalton (Circuit Court of St. Francois County, Mo.)
  • Obtained verdict in favor of insurer client in arson case involving insureds’ home. The case was affirmed on appeal. Safeco Ins. Co. of America v. McBride (Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District)
  • Obtained jury verdict for insurer. Jury found no coverage for fire damages to insured's property as policy contained fraud, misrepresentation and intentional loss conditions and exclusions. Foremost Insurance Company v. Gene Evans (Washington County, Mo., Circuit Court)