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Judge trims Ford’s claims in insurance suit

ford-logoRuling that Michigan law, not Virginia law, applies to Ford Motor Co.’s suit over delayed insurance payments, a Richmond federal judge has ended Ford’s chance to recover triple damages under the Virginia Business Conspiracy Act.

Ford is headed for trial with National Insurance Co. alleging NICO dragged its feet on more than $20 million in liability claim payments to Ford in order to boost its own profits.

Ford said Virginia law should govern the dispute because NICO wrote a letter to Ford’s Virginia lawyers refusing payment. NICO countered that Ford suffered harm in Michigan because that’s where Ford’s bank accounts were located.

U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne sided with NICO in a Sept. 4 opinion, dismissing the Virginia Business Conspiracy Act claim because it is a creature of Virginia law.

The ruling removes Ford’s shot at treble damages, allowed under the Virginia law, but Ford still seeks punitive damages with its claims for tortious interference with contract.

The same case produced an Aug. 21 decision by Payne removing Richmond lawyer Scott C. Oostdyk from Ford’s trial counsel team because his likely role as key witness.

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