Suing an Insurer & its Chairman as Racist for Denial of Claim is not Viable
See the full video at https://rumble.com/v2bh53c-vexatious-litigant-warned.html and at https://youtu.be/TG59DxSOL8k
After a car accident, Nehemiah Rolle filed a claim with his insurer, Founders Insurance Company, a member company of the Utica National Insurance Group. Founders responded with a request for more information, and when none came, the company denied the claim only to find it and its Chairman sued claiming their racism resulted in the denial of Rolle’s claim. In Nehemiah Rolle, Jr. v. Richard P. Creedon, No. 22-1720, United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit (February 23, 2023) the Seventh Circuit heard the appeal and warned Rolle that further frivolous filings would cause sanctions to be imposed against him.
A few months after the denial Founders sent Rolle a notice that his policy was due to expire and would not be renewed. Rolle then sued Richard Creedon, the chairman and chief executive officer of Utica National, alleging that Founders breached its insurance contract by not paying his claim and discriminated against Rolle because he is Black by “aiding and abetting” white employees to “criminally defraud” Rolle by accepting his insurance premium while denying coverage.
Rolle sought compensatory damages of 1 billion dollars and punitive damages of 500 million dollars. Creedon moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. In the meantime, Rolle filed a motion requesting an “Emergency Order” for “A Stay or Restraining Order” requiring that his insurance coverage continue beyond its expiration date and until the insurance company was required (through this lawsuit) to pay for the repairs to Rolle’s car.
The district judge construed Rolle’s motion for an “Emergency Order” as a request for a temporary restraining order under Rule 65(b) and denied it. Rolle, unhappy with the result, then moved for the district judge’s recusal because of alleged racial bias, which, he argued, is what caused the judge to deny the “Emergency Order” and say there was no emergency.
Rolle filed an interlocutory appeal after the denial of his two motions. The essence of a TRO is its brevity, its ex parte character, and (related to the second element) its informality. A preliminary injunction requires notice to the opposing party, and typically involves a hearing held before the injunction is issued.
Here, the district court labelled the motion as a request for a TRO and, consistent with such proceedings denied it without a hearing in a brief order. On the merits, Rolle argues the judge erred by finding it unlikely he would suffer irreparable harm without injunctive relief. Rolle contends that if his coverage is not maintained, he cannot be insured by another company because of the damage to his car that his insurer refused to pay.
To obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must show that it is likely to succeed on the merits, and that traditional legal remedies would be inadequate, such that it would suffer irreparable harm without the injunction. The Seventh Circuit concluded that the district judge did not err in determining that Rolle failed to demonstrate that the denial of his insurance claim (even if wrongful) or the non-renewal of his auto insurance policy would cause irreparable harm in these circumstances. The harm Rolle claims is measurable in monetary terms (the cost to repair his car or a higher insurance premium), and can be adequately addressed with damages.
Rolle’s litigation history demonstrates a concerning pattern of misconduct against this defendant and others. Rolle filed a second suit against Creedon in the Northern District of Illinois four months after filing this one. The second complaint alleges that Creedon “defam[ed] and libel[ed]” Rolle by notifying the court of Rolle’s litigation history that was otherwise identical to the complaint before the Seventh Circuit.
Rolle is a prolific litigant. He has filed at least 55 federal lawsuits in the Eastern, Northern, and Southern Districts of New York, the Southern District of Ohio, and the District of New Jersey. Most allege that businesses, elected officials, judges, and government employees engaged in racist actions that violated his constitutional rights, but none went far. The majority of these cases have been frivolous and dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Two courts (E.D.N.Y. and S.D. Ohio) imposed restrictions on Rolle because of his vexatious filings.
The Seventh Circuit warned Rolle that further frivolous filings within this circuit may lead to monetary sanctions that, if unpaid, can result in a filing bar.
On the jurisdictional issue, the Seventh Circuit sided with Rolle but affirmed the denial of relief.
Insurance companies are often disliked, especially when a claim is denied. People like Mr. Rolle believe that filing a suit claiming bad faith and racism will result in a monetary settlement to avoid the costs of defending the suit. Mr. Rolle is a vexatious litigant who has received the kindness of federal courts who take the time to hear his frivolous lawsuits and claims that anyone who disagrees with him is a racist who must pay him millions of dollars for his hurt feelings. A warning after 55 frivolous suits is too little too late. Mr. Rolle should be severely sanctioned with sanctions that hurt – not just a refusal to allow him to file suits.
(c) 2023 Barry Zalma & ClaimSchool, Inc.
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Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to service as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer and more than 54 years in the insurance business. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
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