Ruined broker wins judgment against insurer

September 14, 1991|By Brian Sullam

A Baltimore insurance broker won an $8.7 million judgment yesterday against the state's largest medical malpractice insurance company on the grounds that it had driven him out of business in retaliation for selling a competitor's product.

After six hours of deliberation, a Baltimore Circuit Court jury agreed with B. Dixon Evander's contentions that his business was destroyed by Medical Mutual Liability Insurance Society of Maryland in May 1989 when it refused to accept any more business from Mr. Evander's firm.

Medical Mutual had been angry that Mr. Evander, who was Maryland's largest broker of medical malpractice insurance, also sold policies offered by an out-of-state competitor, according to court testimony.

The non-profit Medical Mutual, which is based in Hunt Valley, was created by the General Assembly in 1975 because insurers had stopped writing medical malpractice insurance in Maryland.

For nearly 13 years, the company had a virtual monopoly on medical malpractice insurance for the state's approximately 7,000 individual practitioners.

Beginning in 1988, when New Jersey-based Princeton Insurance Co. also began to underwrite malpractice policies in Maryland, Mr. Evander began to offer those policies to his clients in addition to the Medical Mutual policies.

According to testimony, Medical Mutual stopped accepting policies written by Mr. Evander in May 1989, sent a complaint to the state insurance commissioner alleging that Mr. Evander should have his license revoked, then sent letters to his clients accusing him of unethical behavior.

Even though the insurance commissioner said there were no grounds for revoking Mr. Evander's license, he lost all but a few of his more than 600 clients.

The jury awarded Mr. Evander $1.725 million in compensatory damages, $5 million in punitive damages from Medical Mutual and $2 million in punitive damages from Raymond Yow, the company's chairman, who had written Mr. Evander's clients.

Medical Mutual could not be reached for comment.

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