Dodrill v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
In Dodrill v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, 201 W. Va. 1, 491 S.E.2d 1 (1997), the Court examined alleged violations of the UTPA which occurred in the handling of a single insurance claim and addressed what evidence was sufficient to establish a "general business practice" arising from the handling of a single insurance claim.
In so doing, the Court reviewed the evidence submitted to the jury including, but not limited to, evidence that Nationwide's initial investigation of the Mr. Dodrill's claim was limited to telephone contact with the claimant and information gathered internally, that information regarding the claim was not shared among Nationwide personnel and the history of negotiations between the parties, in the light most favorable to the prevailing party. Dodrill, 201 W. Va. at 11-12, 491 S.E.2d at 11-12.
After discussing the evidence presented to the jury, the Court noted:
"from our review of the entire record, we do believe that the evidence would support a conclusion that, during the negotiation process outlined above, Nationwide violated W. Va. Code 31-11-4(9) by failing in good faith, and on numerous, separate occasions, to effectuate a prompt, fair and equitable settlement of the Dodrill claim, on which liability had become reasonably clear. We also believe that the evidence would support the conclusion that such violations occurred with such frequency during the negotiation process in the Dodrill claim that a general business practice was indicated. In reaching this conclusion, we rely, as did the trial court below, on the applicable decisional and statutory law which we have here reviewed, the instruction given by the trial court, and the evidence in the record, taken in the light most favorable to the prevailing party below, Mr. Dodrill, assuming that all conflicts in the evidence were resolved by the jury in his favor, and after giving him the benefit of all favorable inferences which may be drawn from the facts." (Dodrill, 201 W. Va. at 12, 491 S.E.2d at 12.)