New Report: Lamplight Village’s insurance attorney could have settled for less than $2 M, but declined

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

 

Last month, homeowners of Lamplight Village at Centennial Springs, Las Vegas, Nevada, were shocked by news of a $20 million verdict against their homeowners’ association.

Readers may recall a jury made the award in favor of Carl Thompson, who was only 15 years old when he was injured by the collapse of a swing set on HOA property, resulting in life-altering traumatic brain injury.

The HOA was only insured for $2 million, and for several weeks, residents were concerned they might have to lose their homes to foreclosure, just to pay their share of the verdict.

By the end of March, Lamplight Village HOA had retained independent counsel, Michael McKelleb, who worked out a deal with Thompson’s attorneys, Sean Claggett and Al Lasso. Thompson agreed not to file liens on HOA properties, and, in return, the HOA agreed to sue their insurance provider, assigning any payments recovered to Thompson.

Last week, McKelleb was interviewed by Fox5 News, where he explained that the HOA board had wanted to accept a pre-trial settlement, but the insurance company for the HOA retained the authority to make that decision, declining Claggett’s and Lasso’s offer.

Notably, the insurance company has made no statement to media with regard to McKelleb’s claims, and the pending lawsuit against the company.

 

Valley HOA will not pay $20 million to victim of collapsed swing set

Posted: Apr 10, 2018 11:31 PM EDTUpdated: Apr 10, 2018 11:48 PM EDT

A jury reached a $20 million verdict after a teenager suffered severe brain injuries from a swing set collapsing on his head at Lamplight Village in northwest Las Vegas. (FOX5)

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) –A homeowners’ association in northwest Las Vegas, ordered to pay $20 million because of its failure to perform routine inspections and maintenance on playground equipment, is now promising homeowners they will not have to foot the bill.

Michael McKelleb, an attorney who was recently hired to represent Lamplight Village, said all of the settlement offers were for less than the $2 million policy limit. He said Lamplight Village wanted to settle, but couldn’t.

“The (HOA) board didn’t have authority,” McKelleb explained. “The policy provided that authority to the insurance carrier… The insurance company turned that down and went to trial.”

“An insurance carrier should not be stingy with paying policy limits,” he continued. “In hindsight, it was far too great of a risk.”

Lamplight Village is now filing a claim against its insurance company, QBE Insurance, for rolling the dice with someone else’s money in a case they could not win. First, the victim has to take a risk by signing a settlement with the HOA.

“If (the insurance company) were to win the case, then the settlement would still provide that Mr. Thompson has agreed not to go after the homeowners,” McKelleb said. “(Thompson) is not looking to make more victims. He doesn’t want to get paid from the homeowners by taking their homes from them. That doesn’t really help anybody, and quite honestly to get the kind of money he would need from them, it’s not going to be there… I don’t think anybody would be interested in displacing 284 families.”

Read more (Video):

 

http://www.fox5vegas.com/story/37927550/valley-hoa-will-not-pay-20-million-to-victim-of-collapsed-swing-set

 

In previous reports, Lamplight Village’s insurance company was identified as Community Association Underwriters (CAU), but the most recent report names QBE Insurance.

To clear up the confusion as to the insurer(s) involved in this case, I did a bit of internet research.

In 2015, two years after Thompson was injured in Lamplight Village, QBE North American sold its US division insurance agencies — including CAU, Deep South, and SIU Managers — to Alliant Insurance Services. QBE has retained its underwriting business with all three agencies.

CAU did provide insurance to Lamplight Village, and, at the time of the accident, QBE owned CAU.

CAU is a specialty insurance company serving association-governed communities. The company works closely with industry trade group, Community Associations Institute (CAI) to market its insurance products.

References:

QBE North America Announces Alliant Insurance Services to Buy its US Agency Business

QBE Selling U.S. Agency Businesses to Alliant for $300M

 

 

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