Friday, June 5, 2015

Barbara Sloan: Arizona: She moves one step closer to complete exoneration on arson charge after judge orders a new trial in her civil lawsuit against an insurance company. The lawsuit alleged ties between the Phoenix Fire Department and the insurer. (Must Read. HL);

STORY: "Ties between Phoenix Fire Department, insurer at issue in lawsuit,"  by reporter Matthew Casey. published by the Republic on May 14, 2015.

GIST: "A so-called "hand-in-hand" relationship between the Phoenix Fire Department's arson squad and a private insurance company is expected to come under scrutiny in the retrial of a civil lawsuit against the insurer by a woman wrongfully accused of setting fire to her home. When the Maricopa County Attorney's Office dismissed the criminal case against Barbara Sloan because of a lack of evidence, Deputy County Attorney Edward Leiter noted an "incestuous relationship" between the Phoenix Fire Department and Farmers Insurance, the case disposition worksheet says. Judge Christopher Whitten agreed, writing that the Fire Department and insurance company seemed to work "hand in hand," minutes show. In April, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson overturned the verdict in the 2012 case he presided over and granted Sloan a new trial in her civil lawsuit against Farmers Insurance. A jury ordered Sloan to pay Farmers $1.68 million in legal fees after it ruled in 2012 that the insurance company did not act in bad faith by stopping payment on her claim.......... Requests for new civil trials are common but are rarely granted, Phoenix attorney Stephen I. Leshner said. The decision to grant Sloan one meant that there were "extraordinary facts" that were not presented during the first trial and kept it from being fair, he said. The new trial could result in a multimillion-dollar swing in Sloan's favor as her attorney, Mike Poli, alleges that a private investigator hired by Farmers, Robert Laubacher, was pressured by the insurer to change his opinion on the cause of the 2009 house fire near 40th Street and Campbell Avenue to arson from not arson. The blaze was later traced to faulty car parts inside the garage..........Law enforcement and insurance companies are often the agencies people call when they need help. But Leshner said that while law-enforcement officers have "prestige" that makes most people want to believe them, "there have been fire investigators who have had wrong theories for decades," Leshner said. Insurance companies will fight customers on the "simplest, most head-scratching" of things because they want to avoid paying out the premiums they collect, he said. "People act in their own interest when money is involved," Leshner said."

The entire story can be found at:

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