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Vol. 6, Iss. 4
April 12, 2017

Appeals Court Says That State Farm’s “Like a Good Neighbor” Slogan Is Not A Material Fact

Back in the April 1, 2014 issue of Coverage Opinions I discussed Broadway v. State Farm, a March 2014 Alabama federal court decision where the court was, to say the least, woefully unimpressed with the insured’s efforts, stating: “If arguments had feelings, this one would be embarrassed to be here.” Ouch. The Eleventh Circuit just weighed in on the matter.

Joe Broadway [man what a cool name] attempted to bring a fraud claim against State Farm on the basis that the company advertises itself to its customers and potential customers as a “Good Neighbor.” Broadway Joe asserted that State Farm’s advertising slogan, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there,” induced him to purchase an auto insurance policy through State Farm. He alleged that the Good Neighbor slogan was a representation that State Farm treats its customers with respect to their insurance claims on a fair, reasonable and good faith basis. This, he alleged, did not happen with respect to State Farm not paying the limit of his UIM benefit.

The court was not persuaded, holding: “The Court need go no further in its analysis of Broadway’s fraud claim because he can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that State Farm’s ‘Good Neighbor’ slogan is anything other than mere opinion or puffery, and, hence, not a statement of material fact.” In reaching this conclusion, the court cited to the Connecticut federal court’s 2010 decision in Loubier v. Allstate Ins. Co., where the court held that “any fraud claim premised on Allstate’s ‘good hands’ advertising slogan must be dismissed.”

The Eleventh Circuit just affirmed, stating that the slogan “like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” is not a “representation of a material fact” and “constitutes nothing more than a statement of opinion or ‘puffery.’” Thus, in the absence of a misrepresentation of material fact, the insured failed to state a claim for fraud under Alabama law. Broadway v. State Farm, No. 16-13363 (11th Cir. Mar. 29, 2017).

Not a total loss. At least the appeals court did not say that the argument should be embarrassed.

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