|By Tim Evans, The Indianapolis Star|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The damage tally topped
But the nation's largest property and casualty insurer also took an additional
The jaw-dropping judgment a
It is the latest twist in a complicated and contentious legal saga that has dragged on for more than six years and is now back before the
The legal dispute started with an act of God: a
"At this point, the arguments and briefings speak for themselves," said
The details and often-conflicting allegations in the convoluted case are laid out in thousands of pages of court documents.
The story, according to those records, goes like this:
Several months after the storm, Radcliff saw a business opportunity in the shortage of contractors and huge demand to repair damaged roofs. He established a company called Coastal Property Management to repair hail-damaged homes.
Around that same time,
Radcliff discovered some contractors were not willing to work with homeowners who had
In early 2007, a
Part of that strategy involved going after what the company deemed "questionable contractors."
"A good, positive story to indirectly expose some of these practices and help protect consumers," another internal email explained, "could go a long way to helping change the public's attitudes and perceptions."
At the time that email was written,
The NICB took the information to
Unknown at that time, however, was that
There is no indication in court records that NICB was complicit in
Radcliff was arrested in
Three days after the arrest, one of
The insurance company took a more restrained public approach to the arrest.
Publicity surrounding Radcliff's arrest destroyed his business almost overnight. Customers canceled contracts. Suppliers cut off lines of credit. Sales staff quit. Rivals drew attention to the arrest .
The insurance company also filed a civil lawsuit against Radcliff in
The civil case went to trial in
Following 40 days of testimony by more than three dozen witnesses, a
Under a seldom-used procedure,
Birnbaum said a new trial is essential to preserve the integrity of not only this case but the entire judicial system. The court, she said, cannot stand by and allow a verdict to stand in the face of new evidence that suggests the verdict was obtained through fraud and bribery.
She said Nation reviewed the new allegation in light of all the other evidence in the case and determined that it did not meet the high standard required to throw out the verdict and order a new trial.
"At some point," Gelinas said, "the litigation has to stop."
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