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Insurer Fights Judge’s Claim

Posted Aug 23, 2007 6:55 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An insurance company is seeking a declaratory judgment that it owes no more than $3.4 million already paid to a Massachusetts judge who won a successful defamation judgment against the Boston Herald.

Judge Ernest B. Murphy wrote Mutual Insurance Co. Ltd. on July 17, claiming he should be paid an additional $6.8 million for violations of a law prohibiting unfair and deceptive insurance practices, the National Law Journal reports.

Mutual paid $3.4 million to satisfy the defamation judgment after the state’s highest court upheld the verdict. The suit concerned the newspaper’s claims that Murphy demeaned crime victims and told a teen rape victim to “get over it.”

Murphy alleges the insurer failed to conduct a reasonable investigation of his claims, made frivolous arguments, failed to offer a prompt settlement, and improperly pursued an appeal, the Boston Herald reports.

Murphy's attorney, Stephen J. Brake, told the National Law Journal that the insurer has obligations to claimants. "They have to make a good-faith analysis of the claim; they can't simply appeal because it's their policy to appeal," he said.

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