Randy L. Sassaman - Raymond, Greer & Sassaman, P.C.
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Randy L. Sassaman

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2016

Randy L. Sassaman is certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a Specialist in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation. His practice focuses on the personal injury area both for injured plaintiffs and defendants and also emphasizes insurance coverage, general insurance matters, and bad faith litigation. He is admitted to practice in Arizona state and federal courts and Kansas state court.

His most recent victories include a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision of nation-wide importance involving a fire insurance policy. The Court held that the loss of his clients' mountainside vacation home, which was swept away by water runoff and mudslides months after a forest fire had denuded the terrain above the home, could be covered as a "direct loss by fire" notwithstanding specific exclusions in the policy for losses caused by flood or earth movement. After remand to the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, and the insurer's continued refusal to acknowledge, Mr. Sassaman moved to amend the complaint to assert a new count for bad faith arising from the insurer's post-remand conduct. The insurer subsequently settled, with a covenant not to disclose the terms of the settlement.

His most recent trial victory was a jury verdict and judgment for more than $447,000 in a case in which an insurer denied his client's $90,000 burglary loss claim. The jury found that the insurer breached the contract and acted in bad faith. The trial court awarded attorney fees and pre-judgment interest in addition to the breach of contract and bad faith damages.

Representative reported cases include Stankova v. Metropolitan Property and Casualty Ins. Co., 788 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. 2015); Employers Mutual Casualty Co. v. DGG & CAR, 183 P.3d 513 (2008); Liberty Insurance Underwriters v. Weitz Co., 158 P.3d 209 (App. 2007); Uyleman v. D.S. Rentco, 981 P.2d 1081 (App. 1999); Floyd v. Donahue, 186 Ariz. 409, 923 P.2d 875 (App. 1996); Ogden v. U.S. Fidelity and Guar. Co., 188 Ariz. 132, 933 P.2d 1200 (App. 1996); Wilshire Ins. Co. v. Home Ins. Co., 179 Ariz. 602, 880 P.2d 1148 (App. 1994); Columbia Casualty Co. v. United States Fidelity & Guar. Co., 178 Ariz. 104, 870 P.2d 1200 (App. 1994); Newman v. Sun Valley Crushing Co., 175 Ariz. 272, 855 P.2d 786 (1993)

Wichita State UniversityBS 1976Washburn UniversityJ.D. 1981

Case History

Stankova v. Metropolitan Property and Casualty Ins. Co., 788 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. 2015)

The clients' mountainside home was destroyed by runoff water and mudslides that occurred months after a wildfire had denuded the terrain above their home. Their insurer denied coverage, arguing that the loss was not a "direct loss by fire" and, in any event, was explicitly excluded by water and earth movement exclusions. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the loss could have been a "direct loss by fire" and that, if so, the exclusions were invalid under Arizona law. The case is important because the Court interpreted “direct loss by fire” to be much broader than this insurer, and indeed many insurers, interpret the phrase. It illustrates that no matter how clear a policy provision or exclusion may seem to an insured, it is important to have an insurance law practitioner carefully review the policy, circumstances of the loss and the appropriate state law to determine whether a denial of coverage is justified.

Employers Mut. Cas. Co. v. DGG & CAR, Inc., 218 Ariz. 262, 183 P.3d 513 (2008)

This Arizona Supreme Court case interprets employee dishonesty coverage under a business policy. A DGG employee embezzled $584,000 over five years by way of 284 forged checks. EMC provided coverage of $50,000 per occurrence and defined “occurrence” as “all loss caused by, or involving, one or more ‘employees,’ whether the result of a single act or series of acts.”

EMC paid only $50,000. DGG sued for breach of contract and bad faith, contending EMC owed up to $50,000 for each of the 284 forged checks.

EMC hired a different firm to defend. The trial judge ruled that the policy was ambiguous, that DGG could recover up to $50,000 for each forgery and, in addition, could proceed on its bad faith claim. At that point EMC turned to our firm. To limit both EMC’s potential exposure and its attorney fees, we arranged for a stipulated judgment against EMC, subject to EMC’s right to appeal the “occurrence” issue.

This proved to be a successful strategy when the Court of Appeals reversed. The Arizona Supreme Court accepted DGG’s petition for review because the case presented an issue of first impression in Arizona and this definition of occurrence is common in employee fidelity/commercial crime policies. The Court rejected all of DGG’s many arguments that the policy was ambiguous, concluding that EMC owed only the $50,000 per occurrence limit. Thus, our work saved EMC well over $1,500,000.

 

Office Location

3636 North Central Avenue, Suite 1070
Phoenix, AZ 85012-1940
United States


Practice Areas

Insurance Law