Ralph Nader Radio Hour
Ralph Nader Radio Hour
Live Taping w/ the Father of Bad Faith Insurance Law
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Live Taping w/ the Father of Bad Faith Insurance Law

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Not a lot of lawyers can say that they helped create a whole new legal field, but William Shernoff can. On this week's episode, Ralph welcomes trailblazing attorney William Shernoff to discuss predatory insurance practices, and how consumers can protect themselves. This special episode was co-presented by The American Museum of Tort Law, and was recorded in front of a live virtual audience.


William Shernoff is the founding partner of Shernoff Bidart Echeverria, a law firm specializing in insurance bad faith litigation. A longtime consumer advocate, he has made a career of representing insurance consumers in their cases against insurance companies. Often called the “father” of bad faith insurance law, in 1979, Mr. Shernoff persuaded the California Supreme Court to establish new case law that permits plaintiffs to sue insurance companies for bad faith seeking both compensatory and punitive damages when they unreasonably handle a policyholder’s claim (Egan v. Mutual of Omaha).

A frequent lecturer and writer, Mr. Shernoff co-authored the legal textbook, Insurance Bad Faith Litigation, which has become the field’s definitive treatise, as well as How to Make Insurance Companies Pay Your Claims . . . . And What To Do If They Don’t, Fight Back and Win – And How To Make Your HMO Pay Up, and Payment Refused

Under bad faith law in California and in most states, you not only could get the benefits you deserve under the insurance policy—whether it be life insurance or disability insurance or health insurance. But you can also get damages over and above the policy limits, which are emotional distress damages…Not only can you get the emotional distress damages, but any aggravation of your medical condition. And then punitive damages are on top of that. And attorney's fees are on top of that. So all of these damages are coming from insurance bad faith if the insurance bad faith law applies. And punitive damages are designed to punish the insurance company so that they correct their wrongful conduct in the future, and deter them from unfair claims practices. 

William Shernoff

Most people, if they get a letter from an insurance company—which they consider to be an authoritative source— and the insurance company says, “Your claim is denied because…” and then they cite all kinds of fine print in the insurance policy, most people accept that and don't do anything. They don't see a lawyer. They just accept what their insurance company told them because it sounded quite official to them.

William Shernoff

Insurance regulation is state-controlled. The federal government has been blocked for decades and the Congress has imposed itself on the federal Federal Trade Commission and said that they can't even investigate the insurance companies without being allowed to by a committee in the House or the Senate that has jurisdiction over such matters. So the privileges of the insurance lobby are quite extraordinary even by comparison with other corporate lobbies.

Ralph Nader 

More people should know about bad-faith cases rights—and use them. And not take whatever is dealt to them by insurance companies—denials, rescission of insurance policies, refusing to renew, other delays, or other crazy obstructions. Learn about your rights.

Ralph Nader 


In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis

News 3/27/24

1. CNN reports the United Nations Security Council has passed a Gaza ceasefire resolution. The resolution itself is imperfect, calling only for a ceasefire during the month of Ramadan, but this watered down language paved the way for the United States to allow the resolution to pass. The U.S. has vetoed every previous ceasefire resolution before the Security Council and disputes the extent to which this resolution is legally binding. For its part, Israel’s Foreign Minister stated unequivocally that Israel “will not cease fire,” per CNN.

2. Following the passage of the Security Council resolution, Prime Minister Netanyahu canceled a planned high-level Israeli delegation visit to Washington, per CNBC. The planned visit, which would have included an address to Congress, was staring down scathing criticism from Congressional Progressives. Axios reports Representative Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian member of Congress and the most outspoken on the Israeli campaign of terror, said “[Netanyahu] shouldn't come to Congress, he should be sent to the Hague.”

3. In another sign of the rift between the Biden Administration and Netanyahu, Haaretz reports that Congressional Democrats are sending formal warnings to the administration stating that Israel is not in compliance with U.S. laws governing the dispensation of military aid.  Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas, said “Congress and [the] White House need to make clear to Israel that we will enforce US law to protect Palestinian children from starvation in Gaza.”

4. Professor Jana Silverman, co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America International Committee, reports “After a totally last-minute, ad-hoc, no-budget campaign, 13.2% of voters in the Democrats Abroad primary said no to genocide in Gaza and voted Uncommitted!” This impressive performance signals that the Uncommitted electoral protest movement isn’t going anywhere. The next major test for the movement will be Pennsylvania, where Uncommitted PA is aiming for at least 40,000 votes in the state’s April primary, per Lancaster Online.

5. In an open letter, over 100 prominent American Jews condemned AIPAC. The letter reads “We are Jewish Americans who have…come together to highlight and oppose the unprecedented and damaging role of AIPAC…in U.S. elections, especially within Democratic Party primaries. We recognize the purpose of AIPAC’s interventions in electoral politics is to defeat any critics of Israeli Government policy and to support candidates who vow unwavering loyalty to Israel, thereby ensuring the United States’ continuing support for all that Israel does, regardless of its violence and illegality.” Signatories include the Ralph Nader Radio Hour’s own Alan Minsky, celebrated academic Judith Butler, Postal Workers Union president Mark Dimondstein, Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s, and the actor Wallace Shawn among many others. The full letter is available at USJewsOpposingAipac.org.

6. Oscar winning director Jonathan Glazer continues to be the target of phony outrage by pro-Israel groups like the Anti-Defamation League. Coming to the defense of the filmmaker however are other prominent Jewish organizations, like Jewish Voice for Peace and the Auschwitz Memorial, whose director said “In his Oscar acceptance speech, Jonathan Glazer issued a universal moral warning against dehumanization,” per the Guardian. Decorated Jewish playwright Tony Kushner, a signatory on the anti-AIPAC letter, told Haaretz “There’s been a concerted attempt by right wing American Jews to sort of sell the idea that American college campuses are awash with virulent antisemites – professors and students and so on. And the Jewish students are walking these campuses in terror for their lives. I think this is nonsense. I see no evidence of it.”

7. Both the Gannett and McClatchy newspaper companies have announced they will no longer use AP journalism in their publications, AP reports. This is yet another indication of the dire financial straits the news business finds itself in. The AP notes “Gannett’s workforce shrank 47% between 2020 and 2023 because of layoffs and attrition…The company also hasn’t earned a full-year profit since 2018… Since then, it has lost $1.03 billion.”

8. In Honduras, the Intercept reports “an almost-impossible-to-believe scenario: A group of libertarian investors teamed up with a former Honduran government — which was tied at the hip with narco-traffickers and came to power after a U.S.-backed military coup — in order to implement the world’s most radical libertarian policy, which turned over significant portions of the country to those investors through so-called special economic zones. The Honduran public, in a backlash, ousted the narco-backed regime, and the new government repealed the libertarian legislation. The crypto investors are now using the World Bank to force Honduras to honor the narco-government’s policies.” While this story has certain unique angles – crypto and narco-trafficking chief among them – the key element is actually quite familiar: international ‘free trade’ regimes superseding sovereign governments. We offer Honduras solidarity against these contemporary crypto-filibusters.

9. On March 11th, Congressmen Jimmy Gomez and Joaquin Castro sent a letter to the heads of the CIA and FBI demanding disclosures of surveillance efforts on Latino civil rights leaders during the 1960s and ‘70s, citing the well-documented pattern of surveillance on Black civil rights leaders during that period and the wealth of circumstantial evidence indicating that these organs of national security did the same toward prominent Latino figures such as Cesar Chavez. The following day, in a hearing before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Castro pressed CIA Director Bill Burns on the matter, and Burns committed to working with his office to bring these activities to light. We hope that further transparency will beget further transparency and that some day the complete account of the CIA and FBI’s domestic surveillance programs will be a matter of public record.

10. Finally, in Mississippi, CBS reports that authorities have successfully convicted all six members of a police gang calling themselves the “Goon Squad.” These six white officers plead guilty to “breaking into a home without a warrant and torturing two Black men…The assault involved beatings, the repeated use of stun guns and assaults with a sex toy before one of the victims was shot in the mouth in a mock execution.” Lawyers representing the criminal cops allege that “their clients became ensnared in a culture of corruption that was not only permitted, but encouraged by leaders within the sheriff's office.” If true, then a federal investigation – and likely more than a few exonerations of individuals victimized by this “Goon Squad” – are in order. Justice demands it.

This has been Francesco DeSantis, with In Case You Haven’t Heard.

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Ralph Nader Radio Hour
Ralph Nader Radio Hour
Ralph Nader talks about what’s happening in America, what’s happening around the world, and most importantly what’s happening underneath it all.