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On August 13th, 2012, NYC-based comedian Matt Fisher wrote a blog post titled “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer in Court” to his Tumblr. In the post, Fisher revealed the story of his late sister Kaitlynn Fisher, who was killed by an underinsured driver in a car accident on June 19th, 2010, and held Progressive liable for the difference between the payment from the other driver’s insurance company, Nationwide, and the value of Kaitlynn’s policy. Fisher further explained that Progressive refused to pay his family and due to a Maryland law that immunizes insurance companies from lawsuits, Fisher’s family had to file a civil suit against the other driver. Instead of settling, Progressive offered to pay approximately 1/3 of the owed amount before letting it go to trial, where Fisher claimed that the other driver was defended by Progressive’s legal team.
On Social Networks
At 11:00 a.m. (EST) on August 13th, Matt Fisher tweeted a link to his blog post, mentioning the insurance company’s Twitter handle as well. A few hours after Fisher’s post on Twitter, Wil Wheaton tweeted out the link as well, which led to more than 2,653 retweets. Within 24 hours, Fisher’s Tumblr post gained 10,267 notes and his Twitter message received 1,253 retweets.
— Matt Fisher (@fishermatt) August 13, 2012
That evening, Gawker also featured a link to Fisher’s blog post and pointed out that Progressive’s Twitter account had used an automated response to those retweeting Fisher’s link, which stated that the company “fully investigated this claim and relevant background, and feel we properly handled the claim within our contractual obligations.” The automated response was reposted at least 16 times before Progressive’s Twitlonger account was banned and the tweets deleted.
A link to Gawker’s post was later tweeted by comedian and actor Patton Oswalt, which was retweeted 6,336 times. By the end of the day, Progressive had been mentioned at least 6,579 times on Twitter. At the same time, Facebook users began flocking to both Progressive’s official page and their mascot Flo’s fan page to criticize the company’s actions.
However, they were met by the same canned response issued by the company. While the debacle had little effect on Progressive’s total number of Facebook likes, the volume of chatters about Flo’s Facebook fan page drastically increased on the 13th.
On the same day Fisher posted his story, his blog post was linked on the internet culture blogs Gawker and Death and Taxes, as well as the Inquisitr and the New York Observer. The following morning on August 14th, the story was featured on various blogs and news sites including Business Insider, Thought Catalog, the Daily Dot, Uproxx, the Huffington Post, New York Daily News, the Frisky and Mashable. Many of the news articles covering the scandal not only linked to Fisher’s original post, but also included screenshot images of Progressive’s automated Twitter response, and critiqued their lacking efforts in personal interaction.
Progressive’s Official Response
At 2:00 p.m. (EST) on August 14th, Progressive Claims General Manager Chris Wolf issued an official statement regarding Fisher’s case. Wolf claimed that the defendant in the case was represented by a lawyer from his insurance company, Nationwide. However, as of August 14th, Nationwide has not confirmed or denied any involvement in the case.
I’d like to take this opportunity to explain Progressive’s role in this complex case. First and foremost, our deepest sympathies go out to Kaitlynn Fisher’s family.
To be very clear, Progressive did not serve as the attorney for the defendant in this case. He was defended by his insurance company, Nationwide.
There was a question as to who was at fault, and a jury decided in the Fisher family’s favor just last week. We respect the verdict and now can continue to work with the Fisher family to reach a resolution.
Claims General Manager
Fisher’s Follow-Up Post
In response to Wolf’s statement, Matt Fisher posted a follow-up blog article recounting his experience in the courtroom, where he witnessed the attorney identify himself as Jeffrey R. Moffet, a representative of Progressive Advanced Insurance Company. According to Fisher, Moffat conferred with the defendant, cross-examined the plaintiff’s witnesses, questioned the defense’s witnesses during direct examination, made objections on the defendant’s behalf and gave a closing argument where he argued that Kaitlynn Fisher was responsible for the accident.
Fisher also provided a link to the case information provided by the Maryland state court system, which lists Jeffrey R. Moffet as an “interested party” representing the law offices of Progressive Casualty Insurance. Gawker also pointed out that these documents include a motion filed on May 19th, 2011, allowing Mr. Moffet to intervene for the defendant and Progressive was granted all rights as if they were one of the original parties to the case.
Death and Taxes – Did Progressive auto insurance majorly screw over a Maryland family?
Socialbakers – Statistics,for Flo the Progressive Girl’s Facebook Page
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