Maynard dissents: Insurance decision ranks poor as 'O.J.' verdict

By Steve Korris | Dec 8, 2005

Justice Spike Maynard

CHARLESTON - Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard blistered his colleagues for ordering West Virginia National Auto Insurance to cover a customer whose check bounced.

"Let us be very clear about this, dear reader," Maynard wrote in dissent. "The appellee has paid NOTHING for this insurance. Absolutely nothing! Zero! Not one red cent!"

He wrote that the majority opinion "has to be one of the most outrageous court decisions in the history of American jurisprudence ranking right up there with the McDonald's scalding case, the BMW bad paint job case, the Benson truck bed cocaine supervisor case, and the O.J. Simpson criminal verdict."

"Of course, something for nothing cases are not entirely unusual in West Virginia where plaintiffs regularly contend that someone, somewhere, somehow must owe them money simply because they have suffered an injury," he wrote.

When Stephanie Michelle Conley applied for insurance, the application stated that no coverage would be bound if her bank did not honor her check, he wrote.

"Since the appellee never provided any consideration, because her check was worthless, no insurance contract was ever formed," he wrote. "Hence, there is no coverage."

He wrote that the majority opinion did everything the law should not do.

"It punishes the innocent by causing honest, hard working West Virginians to pay higher auto insurance premiums," he wrote.

"At the same time, it rewards the guilty by providing a windfall to those who never paid for insurance coverage," he wrote.

"Finally," he wrote, "it encourages future dishonest conduct by holding that people can procure insurance coverage by tendering worthless premium checks to insurers."

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