A former Eufaula insurance agent accused of stealing premiums, forging signatures and falsifying insurance documents now faces six lawsuits in Barbour County.
The lawsuits against Larry W. Dillon of Country Club road in Eufaula come on top of a mounting criminal investigation into Dillon’s alleged scams.
Six of Dillon’s former insurance clients have sued in Barbour County Circuit Court.
Tom Methvin, a lawyer for one of the seven plaintiffs suing Dillon and several insurance companies he represented, said depositions in the case were set for this week.
Methvin, a lawyer with Jere Beasley’s Montgomery law firm, represents a local mining company owner who says Dillon kept insurance premiums paid for by his business.
Joel Wilson, president and owner of Wilson Mining Company, claims Dillon pocketed premiums he paid to insure his company vehicles-causing the insurance policy to lapse.
In an earlier Tribune story, Methvin said, “Mr. Wilson relied on and trusted Mr. Dillon and Dillon’s companies to properly handle each insurance premium payment,” Methvin said. “Unfortunately, this did not occur and unscrupulous and greedy individuals have cheated Mr. Wilson out of his money and insurance he needed on his mining vehicles. At this time, Mr. Wilson seeks his day in court to get back what was taken from him and to help deter this insurance agent and the companies he is affiliated with from fleecing their customers.”
Interviewed again last week, Methvin said he did not expect Dillon to answer any question during depositions.
“We’re expecting him to take the fifth amendment and not answer any questions,” Methvin said.
Attorneys planned to depose Dillon’s former secretary, and Methvin said he expects “interesting facts” about the case to emerge.
Allegations in the Wilson case are consistent with a wide-ranging pattern of fraud and theft alleged in the other lawsuits. Other plaintiffs suing Dillon, his local insurance agency and several of the insurance companies he represented-before forfeiting his license last spring-include:
Collier trucking Inc.
An Autauga County trucking firm, Collier Trucking Company sued Dillon, Progressive Specialist Insurance Company and Lloyd’s of London on Aug. 31, 2001
According to the complaint, Collier Tricking was approached by Dillon, who represented Progressive and Lloyd’s of London, in the fall of 1999. The suit says Dillon presented a plan to unsure the company’s vehicles and the cargo hauled by the,
The suit says Dillon told Collier Trucking the insurance policies were provided by Progressive, presenting cards “indicating that Defendant Progressive had issued the various policies.”
Collier paid Dillon premiums throughout 1999 and through April of 2000. In the spring of 2000, the suit says, Collier Trucking received notice from state regulatory agencies that its insurance policies had been canceled.
In a pattern consistent with allegations in other lawsuits, Collier discovered that Dillon “had allowed his coverage to lapse completely for a period of several weeks and that the defendants…had not forwarded all of his premium payments.”
Collier Trucking said it contacted Dillon about the cancellation notices, “and was repeatedly assured that the policies were in full force and effect.”
Christina D. Crow and Lynn W. Jinks represent the plaintiffs in the Collier Trucking case.
Gilmore’s Auto Center
The Eufaula company sued Dillon and D.I.S. Inc., his former insurance agency in Eufaula, in July of 2001.
Local attorney Jim Martin represents Gilmore Auto Center in the case. Gilmore alleges that two $2,100 premium payments made to Dillon and his company were pocketed by Dillon.
“The defendants made material misrepresentations to the plaintiff,” the suit alleges. “Specifically, the defendants told the plaintiff that the payments made by the plaintiff to the defendants would be used to pay premiums for insurance for the plaintiff’s business.”
Jernigan Enterprises Inc. and D & S Transportation of Alabama
These two Alabama corporations sued Dillon, and several insurance companies he represented, including Realm National Insurance Company, Great American Insurance, Vesta Insurance Company.
The suit claims that in 1998 Dillon presented the transportation company an insurance plan for all its vehicles. It says the plaintiffs paid for the insurance and policy cards were issued by Dillon in August 1999.
Two months later, however, the plaintiffs received a cancellation notice from Custom Insurance, according to the complaint. It says Dillon told them the cancellation was “because of a computer error and that they did not need to worry about the status of their policies.” The plaintiffs then received a “revocation of authority” from the state transportation office.
“It was only then that the plaintiffs discovered for the first time that defendants had allowed their coverage to lapse completely for a period of several weeks.” The suit also says the plaintiffs “were never informed that his policies of insurance had been canceled.”
Crow and Jinks represent the plaintiffs.
Tim’s Towing and Recovery
Roger Yarbrough, owner of Savannah, Ga.,-based Tim’s Towing and Recovery, sued Dillon and Progressive Specialty Insurance Company in November of 2000.
The suit says Dillon presented a plan to insure all of the company’s vehicles in 1998, and the company agreed early in 1999. The suit says Dillon provided policy cards to Yarbrough, and Dillon was paid premiums throughout 1999.
But when Yarbrough sought new insurance quotes from other insurance companies for the next year, according to the suit, he discovered that Dillon and Progressive Insurance had actually only covered three of his company’s 16 vehicles.
The suit also says the plaintiff discovered that Dillon “had allowed his coverage to lapse completely for a period of several weeks and that the defendants D.I.S. (Dillon’s agency) and Dillon “had not forwarded payments to Progressive.”
And just like the other cases, the lawsuit says the defendant was “repeatedly assured that the policies were in full force” by Dillon, even after receiving cancellation notices. The suit says premiums were paid from March of 1999 through November of 1999. Yarbrough is also represented by Crow and Jinks.
Fulmer Brothers Inc.
Florida-based Fulmer brother Inc. sued Dillon, Great American Insurance Company and Lynn’s Cash & Carry in Eufaula on Jan. 14, 2002.
The suit claims that in October of 2000, Fulmer Brother entered into a contract with Lunn’s Cash & Carry to transport a shipment of citrus to California.
The suit says the contract required Lynn’s to provide insurance for the cargo against any loss. The complaint adds that in December of 1999, Lynn’s, Dillon and Great American told Fulmer Brothers that cargo would be insured up to $100,000, providing the plaintiff with a certificate of insurance.
But in October of 2000, Lynn’s was stopped by the state of California Department of Food & Agriculture, and not allowed to enter the state with the citrus shipment because of violations of “quarantine regulations.”
“As a result,” the suit claims, “the load of citrus spoiled, resulting in a loss to plaintiff.”
In May 2001, Fulmer Brother submitted a statement of loss to Lynn’s, Dillon and Great American, but the defendants, “have refused to pay the claim submitted to them and have refused benefits under the policy of insurance.” Plaintiff’s attorney in Fulmer Brothers case is Richard A. Harrison of Eufaula.
Criminal Case Pending
Dillon also faces a massive criminal investigation over the alleged fraud.
He was arrested last August and charged with felony theft for allegedly stealing $12,382
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