A personal injury victim in Georgia is pushing back against the practice of insurance company surveillance with a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit. According to the suit, which was filed in Georgia state court last week, Luisa Cruz Mezquital became the target of illegal surveillance tactics when she pursued damages following a serious motor vehicle accident. She is requesting $13 billion in compensation from Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, which represented the at fault driver in the collision, and American Family Insurance, which insured the at fault driver. Two former Baker Donelson attorneys, Robert L. Shannon Jr. and Logan Moses Owens, are individually named in the suit.
As alleged in the complaint, Mezquital won $30 million in a 2014 lawsuit against Abdulmohsen Almassud after a jury determined he caused the motor vehicle accident that left her with severe and permanent injuries. However, the verdict was reversed in 2018 on appeal. While Mezquital’s legal team was preparing for a new trial, Baker Donelson’s investigation firm reportedly captured thousands of images of Mezquital on her private property as part of a strategy to bolster Almassud’s defense. The images were purportedly taken over two months in 2019 via a hidden camera placed just outside Mezquital’s house. Tracking devices were also allegedly placed on her vehicles.
Mezquital’s complaint argues that the surveillance tactics employed by Baker Donelson constitute harassment, intimidation, and trespassing, all of which caused her severe emotional distress. She also maintains that American Family Insurance encouraged the surveillance and paid for Baker Donelson to represent Almassud. Mezquital’s attorney, Ben C. Broadhead of Brodhead Law LLC, further claimed in an interview with Law 360 that Baker Donelson’s conduct was so “extreme and shocking” that Mezquital was essentially forced to settle her case for much less than it was worth just to bring an end to the surveillance.
Surveillance is a favorite tactic of insurance companies trying to invalidate an injured party’s pain – to basically show they are “faking it.” Never mind that photos and video can be edited to distort the severity of an injury and make it look like a plaintiff is enjoying a normal life, when in fact they’re struggling just to get through the day. It’s all part of the game plan for insurers to pay out as little compensation as possible.
And yes, most of the time, surveillance is perfectly legal. Maryland case law has long affirmed the right of insurance companies and their defense teams to track and record injured plaintiffs in a variety of settings. So, it’s an unpleasant but necessary part of a claimant attorney’s job to warn our workers’ compensation and personal injury clients that once they leave their home, they are potentially being watched. And until people like Luisa Cruz Mezquital prevail in their fight for an increased entitlement to privacy, this unfortunate aspect of injury litigation is here to stay.
The post In the News first appeared on Warnken, LLC – Baltimore, MD Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Lawyers.