Florida Teens Steal Two Cars, Drive 112 MPH, Run Red Light, Kill Three And Injure Two . . . Geico Then Pays Damages To Families of The Felons

download-1Ricky Melendez has a right to be a bit confused. Melendez was driving to the grocery store when a 16-year-old driving a stolen sport utility vehicle ran a red light and crashed into his Toyota Camry.  The driver, Keontae Brown, was going at 112 mph.  Now, Geico has paid the families of the boys speeding in the stolen car damages in a decision which is precisely why insurance companies are blamed for fueling strike suits and frivolous claims.

A strike suit is an action that is brought for the primary purpose of securing a private settlement – often from insurance companies to avoid the costs of litigation. In this case, there was a limit of $20,000 on the insurance policy so Geico simply paid out — ignoring the criminality of the teenagers, the injuries to Melendez, and the chance that others could have been killed by the reckless conduct.

Notably, the teens were Kamal Campbell, 18, and Deyon Kaigler, 16, were also arrested and described by police as “prolific offenders” who raced other teens in a second stolen car, a Chrysler Sebring.  All six teens tore through town at over 100 mph. The had been ‘running in tandem’ since they stole a Ford Explorer and a Chrysler Sebring on Thursday, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Sunday morning at a press conference.

Killed in the course of this crime were three of the teens: Brown, Jimmie Goshey, 14; and Dejarae Thomas, 16.   Keontae Brown’s 14-year-old brother, Keondrae, was the only survivor from the stolen Ford Explorer. He was later charged with grand theft auto. Two other teens, Kamal Campbell, 18, and Deyon Kaigler, 16, were also arrested.

So three dead, two severely injured, and three injured in a felony crime involving two stolen cars . . . and Geico pays the culprits.

All of this because Melendez’s car insurance had a$20,000 limit and the company wanted to save money on litigation.  The chances of a verdict in favor of the families, even if there was some fault by Melendez (which the police found none) are slim.  It is a morally bankrupt decision by Geico to pay the culprits rather than fight on principle.

Geico has provided the very definition of a “moral hazard” when a contract or financial arrangement creates incentives for the parties involved to behave against the interest of others. In this case, it provides an incentive against its own drivers.  While Geico’s lawyers priced out the case, it has undermined its own customers in paying out damages for those who engage in the most reckless and lethal conduct on our roads.

What do you think?

29 thoughts on “Florida Teens Steal Two Cars, Drive 112 MPH, Run Red Light, Kill Three And Injure Two . . . Geico Then Pays Damages To Families of The Felons

  1. This may not be a popular response but comes from my years of experience as an insurance adjuster. I have the CPCU (Certified Property Casualty Underwriter), ARM (Associate of Risk Management) and AIC (Associate Insurance Claims) designations and have been in this field for 35 years.

    If the driver of the stolen vehicle was alone, then I doubt that there would have been a payout as he was the one responsible for the collision.

    However, since there were others in the SUV with him, the circumstances are different. Though they are culpable for the theft of the SUV, their actions as passengers were not the proximate cause of the accident. If it could be shown that Melendez did not do EVERYTHING possible to avoid or minimize the extent of the accident, if he was 1% negligent, then his actions outweigh those of the passengers in causing the accident. It’s crazy and doesn’t seem right but that is the reality faced in the courtroom. Though the policy limits were only $20K, GEICO is on the hook for all legal expenses in addition to this $20K until the claim is settled. By cutting their losses early and settling, they saved a bunch of legal fees. It’s a hard call to make but it was the right call. Now, the passengers (or their estates) can sue the driver of the stolen vehicle but as someone pointed out earlier, He is most likely suit proof.

  2. Warren Buffett, the owner of GEICO, has told GEICO’s management many times that he doesn’t care what they do as long as they make more money. It’s all about money, Buffett has privately told his management teams, while pretending to be a generous guy. So, if GEICO made a payout, you can be assured that it was the most profitable decision to do under the circumstances. The almighty dollar is the only thing that Buffett and his team worship and adore.

    • You’re awfully cruel.

      These girls had 7 arrests between them. It’s a reasonable wager they run from the police because the local prosecutors and judges cannot keep to a schedule or punish anyone. So, the case percolates for a year ‘ere the charges are dropped or they get a slap on the wrist.

      • I prefer “reasonable” to “cruel.” If these yutes already have 7 arrests at this stage of life, the odds are they only going to get worse as they get older. They will produce illegitimate children, who will grow up too be worse than them, or go on to commit more crimes. Sooo, no great loss to society. Sad to say, but true.

        As an alternative theory on why the courts are behind on young black thugs, maybe it is trying to keep track of all their stupid ratchet, ghetto names. An attorney emailed this hilarious tidbit to Penelope a few days ago:

        GIPSON, CARL LEE “TERRELL LEE” A resident of Baton Rouge, he died Tuesday, June 29, 2004, in Baton Rouge. He was 34 and a native of Jackson. Religious service at Desselle Funeral Home at 11 a.m. Tuesday, conducted by the Rev. Tommie Gipson. Interment in Public Cemetery, Zachary.

        Survived by his father, Jared Gipson; mother Viola Gray; four nieces, Shunda, Sheker, Diamenatta and Skyirinda Gipson; six great-nieces, Y’TiShai, Y’Toria, Y’Tia, Ty’Quinca, Ji’Kiha and T’Aira; three nephews, Wilson Gipson, Xzurick Mack and Malzellrick Mitchell; four great-nephews, Y’Tai’un, Y’Tai’Qwan, Yi’Twan and Yi’Tear’zai Gipson; a sister, Lillie Gipson; and three brothers, Samuel Williams, Peter Gray and Claude Gray. Preceded in death by three sisters, Torethia, Flordia and Coucia Gipson; three brothers, Gerry Williams and Chester and Terry Gipson; maternal grandmother, Emma Gilmore; paternal grandmother, Lettis Jackson-Gipson; grandfather, the Rev. Charile Williams; and a number of other relatives and friends. He attended Southern University and Brusly and Booker T. Washington high schools.

        And people think I have a weird name???

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

  3. An analogy, of sorts. . .

    I decide to rob a bank. I do so and escape. . .well. . .almost. . .I get caught. . .with the money. . .in my car. . .I am prosecuted for the bank robbery and required to return the money that the police found in my car as I was attempting to escape. . .

    Now, would it make sense that my wife or husband could, then, sue for the return of my ill-gotten gains? Sue for the return of money that I stole? Money in which they now claim some sort of ownership in the illegally obtained loot?

    While not the same as the incident in the article, why should a family or families believe that they have a right to sue or be compensated over damage caused by or the result of illegal activities? Damage which was, and is, directly attributable to the crimes? Are the insurance companies paying out because they believe that their licenses, to practice in the various states, could be jeopardized for not abiding by the insurance laws which require that policies, in full force and effect, are to be recognized?

  4. When a business decision is morally despicable there ought to be a remedy.
    When money overrides justice something is wrong with the system.
    In criminal cases too justice is a matter of a bargain. It distorts the official record. Truth doesn’t matter.
    The courts today are a game in which the lawyers are judged and the best lawyer wins regardless of justice.

  5. What injuries did the felons’ families cite in their claim? Did the boys have injuries? If Florida law finds it a valid claim, I don’t think GEICO was wrong to settle. But the families of the felons are going to face lawsuits that will cost them much, much more than what they got from the insurer.

    • There were two stolen vehicles. Four youths were in one vehicle racing two youths in the other vehicle. Three of the four youths in the first vehicle were killed in the crash. The fourth was thrown from the vehicle but survived. If I understand correctly, the youths in the other vehicle were uninjured. The list of offenses on the combined rap sheets of this sextet were as long as your armspan.

    • Good point, igpres. The civil suits of the real victims will get that $20,000 back in an instant, which will just be the beginning. Although the felons’ families are probably judgment-proof.

  6. I have worked for most major and many minor insurance companies. MANY would take this route of GEICO. However, I worked some cases for insurance companies where they took a stand. Not often, but it does happen.

  7. It’s been touched on but the winners in this story are the lawyers. $20k is paid out and the lawyers will get their cut. Geico lawyers will get their salary. Lawyers for the insurance companies of the stolen vehicles will get theirs. Parents of the deceased will sue the county for negligence because their kid is dead instead of being in jail for any of the other crimes they’ve committed in the past. More lawyers will get paid. Then the SPLC will file a civil suit against anyone they can because some racist didn’t protect these poor black children when they needed it. Lawyers get paid. And finally Enigma will contend it’s the racist system that locks up these children for simply being wayward teens looking for a bit of fun.

    Wash, rinse, repeat.

    • Olly, On a case like this it’s doubtful GEICO hired an attorney. They may have used an in house attorney but being only 20K, it was most likely just handled by a claims adjuster. GEICO is an acronym for Government Employees Insurance Company. That might be relevant!

  8. This is confusing. There’s a 3rd party involved. The owners of 2 stolen vehicles.
    Is Geico going to replace the Chrysler Sebring & Ford Explorer or do a cash settlement?

  9. That the parents of these delinquents and their legal counsel had the audacity to file suit is something that should get all three shunned by every other person in the community.

    These six kids have been arrested 126 times in the past. That they weren’t ensconced in a juvenile prison is another reason, in case we needed one, to be contemptuous of the Florida court system (trier of Casey Anthony). They don’t call the place Floriduh for nothing.

  10. That seems to be Geico’s (and most other insurance companies’) modus operandi. My wife recently had a very minor fender bender with minimal collision damage to both vehicles. The other driver put in a claim with our carrier, Geico, which paid out $10,000 – all for doctor’s bills for his medical tests and examinations (nothing for injuries). I am sure that it would have cost Geico more to contest the bills than to simply pay them. The shareholders (Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Company, I think) are pleased.

    My wife and I are ticked off because if the insurance companies pushed back it might ultimately discourage unwarranted claims and bring down the insurance costs for everyone.

  11. Oddly enough I agree with Geico to pay them off. It is too expensive to litigate and would have raised insurance costs for everyone in the state. It was a nuisance suit and will fund their commissary fund in jail and later in prison.

    • I’m waiting for bettykath to chime in and tell us they deserve the settlement because their issue were ‘unarmed black men’.

      • LOL!

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

        PS: I ordered that Mary Lefkowitz book, Not Out of Africa, and it is FANTASTIC. Outside of the interesting facts, like Aristotle dying BEFORE the Library of Alexandria was even created, there is at least one quotable quote on every page related to the flack she received for insisting that Facts Matter.

        Much like GEICO here, it is horrible how many of her fellow academics simply eschewed the facts of her claims in preference to the racial sucking up.

  12. Unconscionable.

    However, the law professions does bear some responsibility. I have seen court cases where it cost more to litigate than the damages were worth. It appears that only the wealthy really have a chance at justice. Few others could afford a lawyer to litigate, appeal, or otherwise slog through the judicial system. The only people who actually benefit are often the lawyers.

    On the other hand, when analyzing the bottom line, it is not just the cost of litigation, but the encouragement to others to engage in frivolous lawsuits that should factor into the equation. Geico was wrong to pay out. All they needed to do was deny the claim. The teens would probably have their hands with their criminal defense attorney. If they are out stealing cars, they may not have the means to hire a civil lawyer to even make this an issue.

    I am just disgusted at the teens who participated in this. We are lucky that they only killed each other, although their mothers likely do not feel that way. They were like an unguided missile careening along public streets, with ever man, woman, and child they encountered a possible victim. Shame on them. Thoughtless, selfish fools. Now there are mothers grieving, and who knows how serious the injuries are of the survivors. At 112 mph, they must be severe. They are lucky to be alive, and now I hope the court throws the book at them. They caused all that grief and carnage for nothing.

    • The local prosecutor has had 126 opportunities in the past to throw the book at them. You can see how effective they’ve been. In Florida, prosecutors set priorities and only go after really dangerous people, like insurance underwriters getting their head beaten into the concrete.

  13. My knowledge of this area of law is quite limited but one would hope there would be some form of legislation to prohibit slayers from receiving economic benefits when they are accused of unlawful killings or for abuse.

    In our state, there is a section relating to this for probate proceedings. I don’t know if this applies in the case of motor vehicle accidents.

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=11.84

    • It would be nice if such a proposed law were expanded to include all criminals in the commission of a crime. It would be nice to no longer have lawsuits over slip and falls or other injuries that the criminal incurs during the commission of his crime. California is infamous for this phenomenon.

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