A jury has awarded $42.8 million in damages to Christine Lucarell in her lawsuit against her former employer Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company of Columbus, Ohio. Ms. Lucarell enrolled in an agency executive program with Nationwide. She was one of about 400 Nationwide agents who participated in the program. Nationwide told her she could earn more than $200,000 in annual commissions by participating in the program and that agents successfully completing the program could become independent insurance agents, according to Lucarell’s testimony.
Even though her agency was profitable, Nationwide stopped financing Lucarell’s agency and she claimed that the company essentially forced her to resign. Nationwide terminated about 90 percent of its agency executive agencies, including Ms. Lucarell’s, “using unsustainable monthly production quotas to withhold financing from the agencies and then terminating them once the agents had generated a profitable book of business,” the suit alleged. The breakdown for the damages was $5.7 million in lost profits, $1 million in emotional distress, and $100,000 for retaliation. The jury also awarded $36 million in punitive damages.
Caryn M. Groedel, a lawyer in Cleveland, Ohio, who represented Ms. Lucarell in her case, told the jury that Nationwide’s actions “were not an accident” and asked jurors to “award one-twelfth of Nationwide’s $386 million in annual net profits as punitive damages.” The jury spent two weeks listening to evidence in the case before returning the verdict for Ms. Lucarell. Lawyers in our firm have handled a number of cases where insurance agents were manipulated in an effort to get their book of business, so we understand full well how this woman was mistreated. Ms. Groedel, whose specialty is employment law, did a very good job representing her client in this case, getting a great result for her.
Source: Youngstown Vindicator Newspaper