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Fraud Convictions

April 18, 2019

Fraud Convictions

Case: State v. Reuben Eugene Mitchell
Facts: Defendant was convicted of arson and filing a false insurance claim. Defendant appealed, alleging that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions.

Appellate Decision: The intermediate court reversed the conviction for filing a false insurance claim because the defendant “legally, and under the policy, did not initiate a claim because he did not file the necessary and required documentation pursuant to the policy, including a proof of loss, in the requisite time period.” Specifically, he did not provide “a detailed list of damaged or destroyed property and that there was no proof that he provided a signed, sworn proof of loss within sixty days” as required under the terms of the policy.

Judge Williams dissented, writing that the statute broadly criminalizes the presentation of a false claim or proof thereof, and does not require that a defendant actually “adhered to the provisions and niceties of the insurance policy.”

Review Granted: March 27, 2019.

Prediction: Ben agrees with the dissent and thinks the Supreme Court will affirm the conviction. The word “claim” in the fraud statute is meant in a general sense and not as narrowly defined in the actual insurance policy.