The video you have just watched depicts a State Farm agent who belligerently refuses to speak to a policy holder, and then—when the customer persists in questioning his bill—she calls the police to have him arrested.
This video has NO CONNECTION to Christian Action Network or the complaint that we are currently litigating with State Farm. However, it is one of dozens of examples (LINK) of the type of mindset that we have encountered from State Farm, as well as the underlying attitude of this giant insurance company and their often antagonist dealings with their policy holders. This is the opponent that we are currently going up against in federal court.
The history of our suit against State Farm dates back to the summer of 2013 when the insurance giant cancelled our legal coverage while we were in the middle of a major national “libel” lawsuit brought against our tiny organization by leaders of an American-based Islamic organization with a history of terrorism and other crimes.
State Farm had been our insurance company almost since Christian Action Network was first founded by myself and my wife, Bonnie, in the basement of my home in 1990. After nearly a quarter of a century of paying our insurance premiums faithfully every month, State Farm dropped our coverage during the lawsuit claiming we were not insured against accusations of slander or libel.
How could this be? How could State Farm possibly provide CAN with business insurance that does not protect our organization against wild accusations of “libel.” After all, CAN is a public advocacy organization. If CAN needed any type of business insurance, it certainly needed protection against crazy claims that we somehow made a libelous statement.
In fact, our policy is quite clear that State Farm provided us with an insurance policy designed to protect CAN and our type of business.
Here are the actual words from our State Farm policy:
“This new policy has been designed to better match the insurance needs for your type of business.” (Emphasis supplied)
Our type of business for 25 years has been public advocacy. In fact, that’s our sole business. How is it possible that State Farm sat down with its agents, mulled over our type of business and “designed” a policy” that did not, somehow, include coverage against “libel.”
State Farm’s explanation is dubious (if not borderline humorous) at best:
In court papers, State Farms claims that their promise that the policy was written to “better match the insurance needs for your type of business” was nothing more than “puffery” and never meant to be taken seriously. Puffery. That’s all.
This brings rise to the next question:
Why did leaders of this Muslim group decide to sue us … and why did State Farm abandon our legal coverage in the middle of the suit? The following is a brief summary of how it all came about.
The Muslim group, known as Muslims of the Americas (MOA), had a history of Islamic radicalism in America going back to the 1980s. In December of 2012, I published a book entitled, “Twilight in America: The Untold Story of Islamic Terrorist Training Camps in America.” The book was the culmination of more than five years of research, including traveling to compounds located across America that were operated by MOA. It was also the impetus for both the Muslim lawsuit against us, and our need for State Farm’s insurance coverage to defend us.
The publication of the book made waves throughout the Islamic community in the United States, but nowhere was the outcry greater than from leaders of the MOA group itself, who were furious that we had exposed some of the most secretive and violent activities of this jihadist organization.
They vowed they would answer the claims made in our book in court—and within a few weeks after my book’s publication and rise to the top of the Amazon best-seller list, they had filed a massive federal lawsuit against us.
They initially demanded damages totaling $30 million, and then revised it upward to $55.5 million. The leaders of MOA also demanded that the book be banned, that I be muzzled, and they made other senseless demands. Named in the suit were myself, my co-author, Patti A. Pierucci, and my organization, Christian Action Network.
This is where State Farm comes into the story. I immediately contacted State Farm, and within a couple of weeks I was informed that I was covered. When I contacted State Farm about covering the co-authored of the book as well, they agreed to provide a legal defense for Patti Pierucci. This was all great news.
On the advice of our Chairman and our corporate attorney who has represented CAN for over 20 years, David Carroll, I and State Farm engaged the law firm of Greenberg/Traurig, in Albany, NY, to defend us. They are reputed to be the best libel defense law firm in the nation, and I knew that this important case needed the top legal minds in this field.
Beginning in April 2013 and going through to early August of 2013, Greenberg/Traurig defended us in the preliminary phases of the lawsuit. This included the very tedious and time-consuming discovery phase, in which Pierucci and I gathered every e-mail, every source, and every databyte of information we had in our files and computers for the opposing counsel.
As May 2013 progressed, we were confident of victory because we knew we had truth on our side—and we also had the First Amendment, freedom of press, and other legal principles on our side. Our information was well-researched, and we were confident of not only victory, but an early dismissal of the case.
The blow came toward the end of June when I received a letter in the mail from State Farm that our insurance coverage for the lawsuit was being revoked. The letter stated, in a nutshell, that we never actually had coverage against claims of libel and slander.
I was informed that coverage would cease within 30 days.
Once I was notified that I was dropped, I waited for notice that my co-author, Pierucci, was also being dropped. But she was not. So I was forced to retain another lawyer, and that’s when our CAN attorney, David Carroll, stepped in to take over the case for me and CAN.
In the meantime, the lawsuit brought against us by the leaders of MOA continued to plod along. We were forced to travel again to New York for depositions of the plaintiffs, and then we had to travel to New York again for mandatory mediation. These were incredibly expensive legal demands.
After seven more months passed Pierucci finally received notice from State Farm that her coverage was also being dropped. Inexplicably, State Farm continued to pay for her defense for over half-a-year after denying coverage for Christian Action Network, which held the policy. It made no sense why State Farm believed the co-author of the book (who was not even on the policy) deserved longer coverage than the actual policyholder.
A few months afterward, our attorney received the welcome news that the lawsuit brought by MOA leaders was dismissed by the federal court judge. The finding was that the plaintiffs never had standing to bring the lawsuit against us. Coincidentally just a few weeks earlier, the FBI declassified a report on MOA in which they are pointedly named as a terrorist organization with the goal of harming the United States—exactly what our book had stated.
This double dose of vindication was welcome, but late for us. We had suffered staff and program rollbacks. What’s more, CAN was unable to obtain a mortgage at that time to purchase our headquarters building because of the lawsuit and possible multi-million-dollar judgment. Before the MOA Muslim case was dismissed, we had spent another $70,000 in legal fees of our own money.
Our hope throughout this ordeal was that State Farm would be required by the courts to resume our coverage and reimburse us for the thousands we were forced to spend after they abandoned us.
Currently, we are still in court with State Farm, which is trying to have our case dismissed.
To understand our legal argument against State Farm in greater detail, please read our motion to the federal judge, the Honorable Judge Norman Moon, which can be found HERE.
And remember, no matter how great your State Farm coverage may seem – it could all just be “puffery.”