Progressive Insurance Lawsuit Scandal

Progressive Insurance Lawsuit Scandal

Updated Oct 18, 2013 at 01:02AM EDT by Brad.

Added Aug 14, 2012 at 05:22PM EDT by amanda b..

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Background

On August 13th, 2012, NYC-based comedian Matt Fisher[3] wrote a blog post titled “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer in Court”[1] 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[2], 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.

Notable Developments

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[5] as well. A few hours after Fisher’s post on Twitter, Wil Wheaton tweeted out the link as well[7], 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.


That evening, Gawker[4] 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[6] and the tweets deleted.



A link to Gawker’s post was later tweeted by comedian and actor Patton Oswalt[8], which was retweeted 6,336 times. By the end of the day, Progressive had been mentioned at least 6,579 times on Twitter.[9] At the same time, Facebook users began flocking to both Progressive’s official page[21] and their mascot Flo’s fan page[22] 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.[27]



Blog Coverage

On the same day Fisher posted his story, his blog post was linked on the internet culture blogs Gawker[4] and Death and Taxes[10], as well as the Inquisitr[11] and the New York Observer.[12] The following morning on August 14th, the story was featured on various blogs and news sites including Business Insider[13], Thought Catalog[14], the Daily Dot[15], Uproxx[16], the Huffington Post[17], New York Daily News[18], the Frisky[19] and Mashable.[20] 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[23] 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.

Chris Wolf
Claims General Manager
Progressive


Fisher’s Follow-Up Post

In response to Wolf’s statement, Matt Fisher posted a follow-up blog article[24] 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[25] 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[26] 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.

Search Interest

[Not available]

External References

[1]Premium Fisher – My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer in Court

[2]ABC 2 News – Fatal Accident in Towson Investigated as a Homicide

[3]Upright Citizens Brigade – Matt Fisher

[4]Gawker – Comedian Calls Out Progressive Insurance for Defending His Sister’s Killer; Progressive Responds in Heartless Robot Fashion

[5]Twitter – @Progressive

[6]Twitlonger – Progressive’s response

[7]Twitter – Wil Wheaton’s Tweet

[8]Twitter – Patton Oswalt’s Tweet

[9]Topsy – Results for “Progressive” between 8/13/12 and 8/14/12

[10]Death and Taxes – Did Progressive auto insurance majorly screw over a Maryland family?

[11]The Inquisitr – Progressive Called Out On Twitter, Tumblr For Defending Insured’s Killer To Avoid Payout To Victim’s Family

[12]New York Observer – Comedian Matt Fisher Claims Sister’s Progressive Insurance Paid for Her Killer’s Lawyers

[13]Business Insider – Comedian Claims Progressive Defended His Sister’s Killer In Court So They Wouldn’t Have To Pay Up

[14]Thought Catalog – Comedian Calls Out Progressive Insurance For Defending Sister’s Killer

[15]Daily Dot – Progessive Insurance finds itself in PR nightmare on Twitter and Tumblr

[16]Uproxx – Progressive Insurance Demonstrates How Not To Use Social Media In A PR Crisis

[17]Huffington Post – Matt Fisher Outraged By Progressive Insurance Defending Sister’s Killer

[18]New York Daily News – Comedian says Progressive insurance defended sister’s underinsured killer to avoid paying claim

[19]the Frisky – Brother Pens Outraged Blog Post About Progressive Insurance Company’s Efforts To Avoid Paying Claim After Death Of His Sister

[20]Mashable – Comedian’s Tumblr Puts Progressive Insurance on Defense

[21]Facebook – Progressive

[22]Facebook – Flo, the Progressive Girl

[23]Progressive – Statement on the Fisher Case

[24]Premium Fisher – Today, in response to my blog post…

[25]Maryland state court system – Case Number: 24C11002185

[26]Gawker – Progressive Says It Didn’t Defend Man Who Killed Comedian’s Sister, Nationwide Did

[27]Socialbakers – Statistics,for Flo the Progressive Girl’s Facebook Page

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