Albuquerque Lawyer Who Sued Insurer Awarded $11 million

A New Mexico State district court jury has awarded an Albuquerque lawyer nearly $11 million after she sued an insurance company that she said ruined her legal practice.

Allstate Insurance Co. routinely hired Suzanne Guest to represent the company in accident claims.

But when two accident victims sued Allstate and Guest, the company went back on a promise to defend her, said Guest’s attorney, Thomas Simons.

“When Allstate stabbed her in the back, (Guest) then had to give up all her Allstate cases because there was a conflict of interest,” Simons said after the verdict. “And that’s all she did was work for Allstate. So she had to give up her practice as a result of Allstate strong-arming her in order to save money.”

The jury deliberated for about five hours before coming to a verdict Friday. Guest was awarded $1.8 million in compensatory damages and $9 million in punitive damages.

Allstate spokesman, Mike Siemienas, said the company believes it did no wrong and will seek to overturn the verdict.

“Allstate is disappointed with the trial result and believes that it is not correct,” he said. “Allstate will seek to correct the result through appeal or appropriate motions to the trial judge.”

Guest still is a member of the New Mexico bar, but no longer is practicing in the state, Simons said.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.