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The Collaborative Clearinghouse for Lawsuits and Other Claims Against ACE Group Insurance Companies

BEN SOLEIMANI V. ACE LIMITED et al

ATTENTION: It is possible that this information may no longer be current and therefore may be inaccurate. The index contains both open and closed cases and is not a complete list of cases in which an ACE Insurance Group company is involved. This information is provided to give interested persons an idea of the issues disputed in the indexed cases. For a full understanding of a case, one should read the rest of the court file, including the response. For the most up-to-date and complete information on a case, visit www.pacer.gov or contact the clerk of the relevant court.

Case Number: 
2:14-cv-05521 Search Pacer
ACE Group party(s): 
Opposing Party: 
Ben Soleimani
Court Type: 
Federal
US District Court: 
Central District of California
Date Filed: 
Jul 16 2014

THE PARTIES
1. Plaintiff BEN SOLEIMANI ("Plaintiff' or "Mr. Soleimani") is and at all times
material hereto was the owner of residential property located at 1005 N. Crescent Drive, Beverly
Hills CA 90210, County of Los Angeles County, State of California (the "Residence Property").
2. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that ACE LIMITED and Does
1-10, inclusive, are and at all times material hereto were corporations organized and existing under
the laws of Switzerland or other jurisdictions, publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange
under the symbol "ACE", holding companies of the ACE Group of Companies, directly or indirectly
through its subsidiaries providing a range of insurance and reinsurance products to insureds
worldwide, doing business doing business in California, inter alia, as ACE GROUP, and ACE
PRIVATE RISK SERVICES, an ACE LIMITED Principal Operating Unit and retail division, as
Defendants ACE GROUP HOLDINGS, INC., and Does 11-20, inclusive, at all times material hereto
corporations organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware or other jurisdictions,
qualified to do business and doing business in California, and as Defendants BANKERS
STANDARD INSURANCE COMPANY, an ACE GROUP Company, and Does 21-30, at all times
material hereto corporations organized and existing under the laws of the State of Pennsylvania or
other jurisdictions, qualified to do business and doing business in California (sometimes,
collectively, the "ACE Defendants").
3. The true names and capacities, whether individual, corporate, associate or otherwise,
of defendants named herein as Does 1 through 50, inclusive, are unknown to plaintiff, who therefore
sue these defendants by such fictitious names. Plaintiff will seek leave to amend this complaint to
show the true names and capacities of such fictitiously named defendants when the same have been
ascertained.
4. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that at all times material hereto,
each of the defendants was and now is the agent, servant, employee, representative and/or alter ego
of each of the other defendants, and in doing the things hereinafter mentioned, was acting within the
scope of their authority as such agent, servant, employee, representative and/or alter ego.

PRELIMINARY ALLEGATIONS
5. Prior to July 27,2013, Plaintiff entered into a contract for homeowner's insurance
with the ACE Defendants in Los Angeles County, State of California. Said contract is entitled,
"THE ACE PLATINUM PORTFOLIO HOME POLICY', and hereinafter referred to as the
"Policy."
6. The Policy provides, inter alia, homeowner's insurance coverage for direct physical
loss to the Residence Property and to Plaintiffs personal property, and for payment of the cost to
repair or replace the covered property.
7. Throughout the period of said Policy, Plaintiff paid premiums and performed each act
required on his part to keep said Policy in full force and effect. Plaintiff intended and expected
thereby to be assured peace of mind and financial and economic security in the event of a loss to the
Residence Property and of his personal property.
8. On or about July 27,2013, while the Policy was in full force and effect, water from a
broken water pipe entered the structure on the Residence Property resulting in significant physical
damage and loss to the Residence Property and Plaintiffs personal property covered by the Policy,
including, inter alia, a vault room and adjacent theater room and personal property therein.
The ACE Defendants1 Bad Faith Handling of the Claim
9. On or about July 27, 2013, Plaintiff made a timely claim for insurance benefits under
the Policy for the damage and loss to the Residence Property and his personal property, which was
assigned claim number 77045990.
10. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that the insurer's duty of good
faith requires an insurer to deal with its insured's claim fairly. The duty to act fairly applies both to
the manner in which the insurer investigates and assesses the claim and to the decision whether or
not to pay the claim. In making a decision whether to refuse payment of a claim from its insured, an
insurer must assess the merits of the claim in a balanced and reasonable manner.
11. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that under California statutory
and case law, the insurer has a duty to maintain objectivity and an open mind in connection with its
investigation and assessment of a claim. Where it appears from the court's review of the
investigation that an insurer was looking for Ways to deny coverage, as opposed to objectively
assessing whether or not coverage exists, the insurer is at risk of a finding of bad faith or improper
denial.
12. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that an obligation of the insurer
and its insurance adjuster is not to be an adversary, but instead to facilitate the claims process so the
property owner can be made whole as quickly as possible.
13. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that where the investigation and
adjustment of the claim indicates that an insurer and its adjuster were looking for ways to deny
coverage and discourage Plaintiff from pursuing his claim, as opposed to objectively assessing
damages and coverage, as applicable, the insurer is subject to a finding of bad faith or improper
denial.
14. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that the ACE Defendants have
acted in breach of the insurance contract, including its covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and in
bad faith, by, among other things:
• Failure to properly and objectively investigate and assess the claim.
• Accepting, adopting and defending the ACE Defendants' hand-picked Accurate
Construction Inc.'s ("ACI") on its face incomplete and questionable - in feet, inaccurate
- February 12, 2014 email falsely claiming to have found "no moisture" in the wood
flooring next to the vault and carpet on August 1, 2013. "We checked the theater just
outside of the vault, specifically the areas surrounding the doorway. No moisture was
found in that area." ;:.
• Unjustified dismissal as untrue observations and statements by an experienced and
respected independent California licensed contractor (the "Independent Contractor") that:
on August 1,2013, at the Residence Property, the ACI purported "expert" ("ACE's
Technician") took a moisture reader measurement of the wood floor where it meets the
carpet outside the vault in the theater room which measurement ACE's Technician then
informed the Independent Contractor was approximately 23%. The 23% reading, ACE's
Technician stated, showed excess moisture at that specific location, far above the
"normal" 6-9% moisture reading that ACE's Technician stated he took in the wine room.
• ACE's Technician's failure to take a sufficient number of moisture meter readings in the
proper locations — some excess moisture levels will not be evident to the naked eye or a
photograph which is why moisture readings are taken and recorded - thereby limiting his
ability to identify excess moisture in the theater room floor and carpet.
• ACE's Technician's failure to take sufficient contemporaneous photographs of the
moisture meter showing its positioning for each of the limited number of moisture
readings he did take that day (and as to photos taken, failure to so inform Plaintiff and to
promptly provide the photographs to Plaintiff).
• ACE's Technician's August 1, 2013 "Psychrometric Record" records only three
measurements, two inside the vault ("perimeter walls" and carpet) and one outside the
vault ("Theater wood floor"). However, the February 12, 2014 ACI email states that,
"Normal (dry) moisture levels were detected on the ceiling, soffit and wall common to
the vault and around the entry to the vault...." If so, where are those moisture readings?
Why did ACE's Technician not record them? The February 12,2014 ACI email also
states that "accessible areas" of the wine room were tested. Which areas? Where are
those wine room readings? Why did ACE's Technician not record them? Are there still
more never produced photos taken by ACE's Technician August 1,2013 in addition to
the four belated emailed to Plaintiffs counsel on 2/11/14?
• ACE's Technician's failure to take thermal imaging readings of the moisture in the
theater room that would have further evidenced excess moisture in the theater room.
• Intentional mischaracterization, misinterpretation and improper dismissal out of hand of
the thermal images of testing performed on July 22,2013 by a very experienced, highly
qualified, multi-credentialed, independent forensic expert (the "Independent Expert")
retained at the recommendation of the Independent Contractor. These July 22, 2013
thermal images establish the profound and extensive adverse effect of the water
penetration in causing moisture levels in the entire theater room, including the wood
flooring and carpet near the vault, to be so elevated as to be detectable from across the
theater room and the points of water entry. Additionally, on July 22, 2013, the
Independent Expert took multiple moisture readings outside the vault, of the wood
adjacent to the carpet which showed excess moisture, and photos of the moisture reader
displaying the actual readings.
Failure to effectively direct and insist that ACE's Technician take or return Plaintiffs
counsel's calls. ACE's Technician's incomplete August 1, 2013 "Psychrometric Record"
and a February 12, 2014 ACI email to the ACE Defendants relaying, second hand, ACE's
Technician's comments is not a substitute.
Improperly relying on the July 31, 2913 photographs taken by the ACE Defendants' Field
Adjuster, ACE's Technician's incomplete August 1, 2013 "Psychrometric Record, and a
February 12, 2014 ACI email from ACI to the ACE Defendants relaying, second hand,
ACE's Technician's comments to falsely deny the existence of excess moisture outside of
the vault.
On December 4,2013 ACE's Field Adjuster told Plaintiffs counsel that: On July 31,
2013, at'the Residence Property, ACE's Field Adjustor saw visible damage to the east
wall, including the wall dripping wet. The floor inside the vault was not visibly wet to
the naked eye. He was not present on August 1, 2013 when ACE's Technician was there,
and did not know if ACE's Technician took moisture readings at the entrance to or
outside of the vault room next to the theater room area carpet. ACE's Field Adjustor
agreed that ACE's Technician should have taken, and he expected him to have taken,
such readings - because, ACE's Field Adjustor said, unless there is something like the
dripping wet wall, one cannot tell from visual inspection or photos if there is excess
moisture/damage. That is why, he noted, moisture readings are necessary.
The February 12, 2014 ACI email relaying, second hand, ACE's Technician's comments,
forwarded the ACE Defendants' to Plaintiffs counsel by an endorsement endorsing it, a
brazen attempt to dissemble as to the true facts in this matter and the ACE Defendants'
willing adoption of it, as obvious evidence of the bad faith investigation and adjustment
of this claim and the breaches of the insurance contract including the contract's covenant
of good faith and fair dealing, and the ACE Defendants' tortious bad faith.
15. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that The February 12, 2014 ACI
email's false assertions include unsupported and unsupportable assertions that moisture readings of
20.5%-23.5% (in Los Angeles) are "normal" wood moisture content. ACE's Technician, determined
to dismiss even his own disturbing moisture readings of excessive moisture still present in the
theater room oak flooring on August 1, 2013, 10 days after the Independent Expert's July 22, 2013
inspection, states: (
"The [theater room] hardwood floor outside [the vault next to the theater room carpet]
had a moisture content of 22.5% relative to a Dry Standard of 20.6% taken on the
opposite side of the theater in the back .... Hardwood flooring to have a natural
moisture content between 18%-20% and is considered normal. Furthermore, when a
moisture content level is within 4% of its dry standard, it is considered to be an
acceptable moisture content level, this is an industry standard. I did not, nor would I
ever claim that a 22.5% moisture content level in hardwood floor be considered
excessive."
16. Plaintiff understandably was extremely upset at the February 12, 2014 ACI email and
ACE Defendants' biased embrace of it, dashing any hope he had of an objective, good faith
investigation and adjustment of the claim.
17. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that the ACE Defendants' eager
adoption of the ACE's Technician's attempted metamorphosis of his admitted August 1,2013 22.5%
moisture content of the wood floor outside the vault next to the carpet and 20.5% moisture content in
the wood flooring across the theater room 30 feet from the vault, into "normal" is itself graphic
evidence of the bad faith effort to convince Plaintiff to drop his claim.
18. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that the widely accepted
industry standard U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Laboratory Wood Handbook Moisture
Readings Table, a true and correct copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit 1 and incorporated
herein by reference, exposes the ACE Defendants' self-serving "junk science".
19. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that the Moisture Readings
Table shows the normal range of moisture content, for the 75 degrees temperature ACE's Technician
reported, as approximately 6-9% — not 20.5%-23.5% as the ACE Defendants misrepresent.
NOFMA (the nonprofit Wood Flooring Manufacturers Association) industry standards require
hardwood planks to be between 6%-9% moisture content with a 5% allowance outside this range. In
drier climates like Los Angeles, the normal wood moisture level is lower.
20. During the claims process, Plaintiff provided the ACE Defendants with all
information and documents in his possession and control.
21. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that on April 7,2014, after
engaging the foregoing outrageous conduct, the ACE Defendants formally denied Plaintiffs claim,
falsely alleging as an excuse that Plaintiff did not cooperate in the ACE Defendants' investigationan
investigation founded on bias, bad faith, and false and fraudulent assertions of the absence of
excess moisture in the area of the theater room wood flooring and adjoining carpet, based on
unsupportable, non-industry standard so-called expert knowledge, akin to "junk science", as
purported authority for the "normal" moisture level of the wood flooring being the 20.5%-23.5% the
ACE Defendants assert
22. Rather than making good faith efforts to investigate and settle Plaintiffs personal
property loss claim, for which there is clear evidence, the ACE Defendants were preoccupied with
denying liability for the loss and trying to building their own case against the claim of Plaintiff, its
insured.
23. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that the ACE Defendants put
their own interests ahead of the insured's interests - a clear violation of their duties under the Policy.

FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST ALL DEFENDANTS
(Breach of Insurance Contract)
24. Plaintiff incorporates by reference each and every allegation of the Complaint as
though set forth in this cause of action. „ ».
25. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that under the Policy, the ACE
Defendants owe duties and obligations to Plaintiff.
26. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that Plaintiff has fulfilled all
obligations required of him under the Policy.
27. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that the ACE Defendants
breached the terms and provisions of the Policy by, inter alia, failing to properly investigate
Plaintiffs claim, by denying Plaintiffs claim where it was covered, by failing to assess Plaintiffs
damages, and failing to pay the benefits due to Plaintiff. The ACE Defendants also breached the
Policy putting their own interests ahead of the insured's interest.
28. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that as a direct and proximate
result of the ACE Defendants' breach of their contractual obligations under the Policy, as alleged
herein, Plaintiff has been damaged in a sum in excess of the jurisdiction of this Court, plus interest,
including prejudgment interest, in an amount to be proven at trial.
SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST ALL DEFENDANTS
(Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good'Faith and Fair Dealing)
29. Plaintiff incorporates by reference each and every allegation of the Complaint as
though set forth in this cause of action.
30. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that Defendants breached their
duty of good faith and fair dealing owed to Plaintiff as hereinabove alleged and by, inter alia, the
following acts and omissions:
(a) Bad faith failure to pay all of the benefits due under the Policy for Plaintiffs
personal property damage at a time when the ACE Defendants had sufficient information to justify
payment of all such benefits; i^.i
(b) Bad faith failure to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of Plaintiff s
claim at a time when the ACE Defendants knew that its obligation under the Policy to pay Plaintiff
was clear;
(c) Bad faith failure to sufficiently perform a fair and objective investigation of
Plaintiffs claim, in direct violation of 10 California Code of Regulations § 2695.7(d);
(d) Bad faith failure to provide an opinion on coverage within forty days of Plaintiff s
claim being opened, in direct violation of 10 California Code of Regulations § 2695.7(b);
(e) Compelling Plaintiff to institute litigation to recover amounts due under the
Policy; and
(f) Other acts and omissions of which Plaintiff is presently unaware. Plaintiff will
seek leave of this Court to amend her complaint at such time as Plaintiff discovers other such acts or
omissions of the ACE Defendants.
31. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that through the foregoing acts
and omissions to act, Ace unreasonably denied and unfairly withheld Plaintiffs benefits Under the
Policy. Plaintiffs Residence Property and personal property loss was covered under the Policy and
Defendants unreasonably denied such coverage to Plaintiff.
32. Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that as a direct and proximate
result of the aforementioned conduct of the AGE Defendants, Plaintiff has suffered and will continue
to suffer in the future, damages under the Policy, plus interest, and other economic and consequential
damages, for a total amount to be shown at the time of trial. As a further proximate result of the
aforementioned unreasonable and bad faith conduct of the ACE Defendants, Plaintiff was compelled
to retain legal counsel to obtain the benefits due under the Policy. Therefore, the is liable to Plaintiff
for those attorneys' fees reasonably necessary and incurred by Plaintiff in order to obtain the Policy
benefits, in a sum to be determined at trial.
33. P laintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that the acts alleged were part
of Defendants' inclusive, ordinary business practice designed to keep from paying Policy benefits
which were and are legitimately owed to the Plaintiff, in order to increase Defendants' profits. In
doing so, and in doing the acts set forth above, the ACE Defendants acted despicably, willfully,
wantonly, oppressively, fraudulently and/or in conscious disregard of the Plaintiffs rights. Plaintiff
therefore seeks exemplary damage in a sum to be set by the jury in an amount sufficient to punish
the ACE Defendants.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendants, and each of them, as
follows:
1. For damages for failure to provide benefits under the Policy, plus prejudgment
interest in a sum to be determined at the time of trial;
2. For general damages to be determined at the time of trial;
3. For special damages to be determined at the time of trial;
4. For attorneys' fees and costs and expenses reasonable incurred to obtain the Policy
benefits in the sum to be determined at the time of trial;
5. For punitive damages in an amount appropriate to punish or set an example of the
ACE Defendants, and each of them;
6. For prejudgment interest, allowable by law;
7. For costs of suit herein incurred; and
8. For such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.
JURY DEMAND
Plaintiff demands a trial by jury on all issues in this action.

The provided text is an excerpt from a document filed in this case. For a full understanding of the case, one should read the complete court file, including the response.

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