Magistrate Ed Bryant (W.D. Tenn.) recently issued a Report and Recommendation in one of my cases in which he held that Tennessee law allows an independent adjuster to be held liable under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The defendant independent adjuster argued that my client failed to state a claim under the TCPA because the adjuster provided a service to the insurance company and not the insured. Rejecting this argument, Judge Bryant ruled that the TCPA’s broad scope contemplates services rendered by independent agents and adjusters who work in connection with insurance companies when adjusting claims.
The opinion also sheds some light on what actions of independent adjusters might constitute violations of the TCPA:
Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint alleges that Defendant Cross, inter alia, destroyed estimates providing support for Plaintiff’s claim, advised Plaintiff to reduce property value of damaged items to "cash value" and then fraudulently and deceptively depreciated the items further, resulting in "double depreciation," and unfairly delayed adjusting the claim resulting in a loss of the property to foreclosure. On these facts, there is an arguably reasonable basis for predicting that state law might impose liability . . .
Although the issue before the Court was whether the case should be remanded, this is yet another opinion that can help define the scope of the TCPA’s application in first party insurance cases. For a copy of the opinion, click here (pdf).