On January 9, 2008, a Texas judge sanctioned Texas Mutual Insurance Co. $30,000 for committing fraud on the court. In the litigation, a worker had prevailed against Texas Mutual in his claim seeking worker’s compensation coverage for his work-related injury. To defeat the worker’s claim, the court found that Texas Mutual falsified a medical record and intentionally used it throughout the litigation to prevent the worker from receiving his benefits. The trial court ruled inTexas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Juan Narvaez, that the insurer committed “fraud on this court and the defendant by falsifying a critical medical record, and then using that record throughout discovery, depositions and trial. This fraudulent conduct was committed knowingly and intentionally by agents and representatives of Texas Mutual Insurance Company.” In addition to the monetary sanctions, the court ordered the insurer to post the sanctions order on the insurer’s website, www.texasmutual.com, within seven days of the order and keep it up for 180 days. Remarkably, after being caught, the insurer then secretly solicited from a doctor yet another altered document which a hospital official later confirmed under oath was not a genuine record.
Another reason this case is remarkable is that Texas Mutual Insurance is well-known for its efforts lobbying for tort reform and limitations on bad faith claims against insurers. Here, the company’s own conduct makes the case for why insureds should be permitted to assert claims against insurers when acts in bad faith occur. Without the governance that litigation can bring, it would be open season on insureds by insurers willing to commit fraud to avoid paying legitimate claims.
Source: Texas Mutual Insurance Company v. Juan Narvaez (Cause No. 04-06061-C) in the 68th District Court of Dallas County, Texas.