Judge: State Farm owes Fishers contractor $14.5M

Jury clears CPM Construction

By David Barras
July 7, 2011

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) - A Fishers contractor fought off felony charges alleged by State Farm Insurance and stands to get millions in return.

It all started with a hail storm in the Spring of 2006. It made a mess for plenty of Hoosier homeowners. For Joseph Radcliff, owner of Fishers based CPM Construction, it was the beginning of a 5-year nightmare.

Radcliff stood in the front yard of a Fishers Home, looking at the roof of a house State Farm claimed he damaged.

"I was under a position where I was going to face over 130 years in prison," he says, “Being taken away from my children for my natural born life and the rest of theirs."

After that 2006 hail storm, State Farm Insurance accused Joseph Radcliff of intentionally damaging roofs to get money. State Farm claimed Radcliff cheated the insurer out of $1.75 million.

Roger Carter's Fishers house was one of those homes which State Farm claimed Radcliff damaged. But Carter said for his home, the claims were false from the start.

"State Farm came to me and said well we'll replace your roof, but you have to state that CPM caused vandalism. I'm like, I'm not going to do that," said Carter.

Not only was Radcliff cleared of all charges, 14 of them, there was an indication it was an adjustor working for State Farm who actually caused the damage.

"In the testimony that came out in the courtroom, it was admitted that an adjustor did create damage on the roof without telling the client. Or informing the client that he was coming out to the property," said Radcliff.

Radcliff sued State Farm for defamation and a Hamilton County jury awarded him a $14.5 million.

State Farm sent this statement to 24 Hour News 8:

"State Farm is disappointed in this outcome. State Farm put on multiple adjusters, engineers and witnesses in an effort to establish our case. We believed the evidence supported the actions we took and the causes of action we filed. State Farm does not believe the verdict is supported by the facts or the law. State Farm appreciates the time and effort this jury and judge put in to this matter. State Farm will weigh its options and make its decision on where to go from here in the near future."

Joe Radcliff, trying to repair his reputation, said there's a lesson here for homeowners.

"Take the time and hire a public adjustor, a reputable contractor and go with your heart. It's always best to get a second opinion," he said.

State Farm has until the end of this month to decide whether it will file an appeal. And that's not the only trouble State Farm is facing from that 2006 hail storm. More than 40,000 homeowners are trying to get class action status in a lawsuit against State Farm for failing to pay for damages from that same storm.

That case is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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