We represented the plaintiff, an insurance brokerage agent, who had underwritten roughly $212,000,000 in life insurance that had generated commissions of $15,000,000. The defendant seller of the policies lacked the skills or the contacts to conduct the underwriting, so he asked our client to do the work, promising to pay him 5% of the commissions, or $750,000. The agreement was oral, but later documentation supported its existence, as well as our client’s prior course of dealing on other transactions in which the defendant seller had paid 5%.
Unbeknownst to our client, however, the defendant seller had promised half of the commissions to two other agents as a way of settling an unrelated dispute. We filed suit and after a week of trial, the jury found for our client all unpaid commissions ($625,000 of the $750,000), validating our client’s 5% oral contract as well as his claims for fraud, conversion, and breach of fiduciary duty. Moreover, the jury found that we had proven fraud by clear and convincing evidence, entitling our client to punitive damages. The court called the defendant back to trial for the punitive damages phase the same day, but before that happened, the case settled favorably for our client.