Adjusters “special employees” not “contractors” – Farmers lost $10.4 million “wrongful termination” case filed by you won’t believe who

“…the amount of control that Farmers exerted over the everyday adjusting activities of these workers belied the title of independent contractor”

Judge Senter stopped short of employment law in deciding the question of “retaliatory discharge” in  ex rel Rigsby v State Farm.  Although there is no such claim in ex rel Sonnier v Allstate, Relator Kermith Sonnier is the adjuster who successfully sued Farmers for wrongfully terminating his employment:

Plaintiff Kermith Sonnier worked as a commercial claims adjuster for Farmers Insurance from 1994 to 1997. His job included evaluating the largest losses sustained by apartment buildings and condominium associations in the Northridge earthquake of 1994.

Sonnier alleged that beginning in 1996, Farmers began to pressure him to groundlessly lower his loss estimates. He refused, and Farmers terminated him, despite a clean work record, on the purported grounds that it was reducing its work force…

Hold those thoughts as I stop to point out that Sonnier’s work for Farmer’s was through his affiliation with Pilot, the firm providing adjusting services for Allstate following Hurricane Katrina and a named defendant in the Branch Consultants qui tam case against Allstate.

Through his attorneys, Stephen C. Ball and Derrick Fisher, Sonnier brought an action against Farmers for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Sonnier’s counsel state that their biggest challenge was not proving Farmers’ impropriety but establishing the existence of an employer-employee relationship between Farmers and Sonnier. Continue reading “Adjusters “special employees” not “contractors” – Farmers lost $10.4 million “wrongful termination” case filed by you won’t believe who”