Buying A Promise? State Farm Sides With Uninsured Motorist After Accident

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(Memphis) We all pay premiums, but just how assured are you that your insurer will have your back if you need them?

WREG spoke with a Memphis man who says after decades of payments, his mother's insurance company was less than loyal in return.

Brooks Monypeny still gets a smile on his face when he talks about his mom Kathryn and stepfather Emil Sadowski.

The two had both lost their first spouses, found love all over again and were married more than 30 years.  The Sadowskis enjoyed their life together and spending time on the open road.

"They'd get a wild hair someday and just say I want to go see Nova Scotia," laughed MonyPeny.

"They'd pack up the car, they wouldn't even tell us they were gone!"

Monypeny added about Emil, "There wasn't any walking around he just loved to drive and I mean he was good at it."

Which is why MonyPeny was astounded to hear differently after Emil and Kathryn were in an accident.

It was March 11, 2012. The Sadowskis enjoyed a Sunday meal in the Wolfchase area.

"They made that trip probably a hundred times over the course of living out in Bartlett over 30 years," said Monypeny.

According to the accident report, Emil was trying to pull out onto Highway 64, in a right turn lane, when a silver Subaru Impreza hit them.

"Hit them so hard, he spun them 360, maybe even bigger than that almost one and a half turns."

So hard the Subaru crossed several lanes of traffic and landed across the street. Everyone was transported to the hospital, but Kathryn's injuries were the worst.

Monypeny said once they reached the hospital, "They had to code her, heart stopped, they had to resuscitate her, they put an intubation tube down her throat, and she never really opened her eyes after that."

After roughly two months, 81-year-old Kathryn Sadowski passed away. Emil eventually moved to assisted living.

"It was tragic," Monypeny says about the loss of his mother and the change in his step-father's life.

Sadly, the fight was far from over.

After the accident, the Sadowskis filed a claim with their insurance company State Farm.

The driver of the Subaru, Chamroeun Kheiv, didn't have insurance, but the Sadowskis had uninsured motorist coverage. In fact, they had extra - more than $2 million worth.

"The agent said oh it's clear, he was at fault, he's uninsured...this should not be a problem."

However, it was.

Monypeny exclaimed, "We couldn't even understand it!"

Court records show State Farm blamed Emil for accident, said he broke the law and therefore denied the claim.

"I don't think she would have every expected her insurer to act in this manner, it was just beyond us."

"State Farm's a good neighbor when they're in the business of collecting premiums," said Sadler Bailey.

Bailey represented Kathryn Sadowski and later her children and estate when they sued Kheiv.

He told WREG, "What you are buying is a promise."

A promise Bailey says State Farm didn't live up to.

Then, another turn.

In these situations, insurance companies have the right to try the case in their name, or in the name of the uninsured motorist.

Monypeny said, "Our mother's insurer defended the driver of the other car, that had caused three-quarters worth of a million dollars worth of damage, has killed my mother and we had to sit there, one chair away from him!"

In late November of 2013, a jury ruled in favor of the Sadowskis, saying Kheiv was 85% at fault, and awarded them more than $3 million.

It was later reduced to just over $2 million due to a finding of Emil being 15% at fault and a cap on non-economic damages.

"Even today they have not paid a penny," Bailey explained.

State Farm filed a motion for a new trial.  It was recently denied.

Besides waiting on justice for his mother, MonyPeny is hoping his fight will inspire other families.

"I wrote every state legislator, I wrote every one of them, and sadly I've only gotten two responses."

The same year a new law put a cap on non-economic damages, there were also significant changes made to the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, essentially removing the insurance industry from its scope.

MonyPeny says legislation aimed at so called greedy, trial lawyers and excessive damages, hurts families like his in the process.

"If you allow these companies to treat people this way, it's not going to be long before it happens to somebody in your constituency and you need to pay attention."

State Farm refused an on camera interview due to the pending litigation.

A spokesperson sent the following statement by email.

"We express our deepest sympathy to Emil Sadowski and his family, on the loss of Kathryn Sadowski.  Under the provisions of the policy the Sadowski family had with State Farm, the Uninsured Motorist coverage provides for certain insurance when another driver without insurance is determined to be liable for the accident.  In order for  such a determination to be made, sometimes it is necessary to establish liability in a court of law, which was the case here.  While the matter is still in litigation, we are unable to comment further."


  • otisthegreat

    Farmers Insurance doing the same thing to me. Three years since accident, no fault on my part, uninsured motorist hasn’t paid a dime.

  • Will

    State Farm is a joke as well as other companies like Geico, who will drop you for any reason. USAA is the only reliable company I’ve known.

  • Redblur63

    I knew Mrs. Sadowski. She was such a lovely person, and she and Emil were one of the sweetest couples I have ever met. I miss her beautiful smile and the obvious love they had for one another. That her beloved children are still having to navigate this horrible legal tangle is so sad. It’s not about the money; it’s about what is right. State Farm should be so ashamed.

  • Terrie

    Oh I hope they dont give up. Call them & bug them everyday. Take his house, car,land, truck anything!! Make an example of these people driving w/out insurance!!!

  • k

    State Farm did the same to me! They are a joke! If you have State Farm, you should switch insurance companies. It doesn’t matter how long you have been State Farm. They are not on your side!

    • LC

      We went through the same thing with State Farm! We were turning left, which required crossing the suicide lane. A guy was illegally using it and speeding to catch the light, and he T-boned us. The police report cited him as at fault for the wreck, yet when it came to the claims, State Farm said we were at fault! I can’t believe there are so many just in this area with similar experiences with State Farm.

  • T

    What about holding State Farm accountable? I cannot believe they sided with the uninsured motorist and poor Mrs. Sadowski lost her life. How cold can you get? Like the Sadowskis, I have paid my premiums faithfully for over two decades; in fact my premiums are drafted out of my account. Then one day they cancelled my insurance for nonpayment without notifying me. When I finally found out I called them to ask how can you cancel me when the premiums are drafted out of my account and my account has the funds to cover the draft. They apologized for their error but stated that since the policy was cancelled, they had to write another one. I though ok, no problem but it was a problem because the new policy was almost double what the original policy was. Any doubt in anyone’s mind what went on here? State Farm just wanted more money. It is such a shame that companies treat their customers this way. Wish everyone would drop State Farm and maybe people would stand up and take notice.

    • s

      Sounds to me like maybe you should have been checking your account to make sure the money was being drafted. I can’t understand how you could blame the company for your irresponsibility. I’ve been insured with State farm for many years and I know that they are a great company to have. Although I feel bad for the lady that died but the coverages you pay for are the coverages you get.

    • Jenelle

      State Farm has issues with their auto draft. I have had my current policy with them for around 10 years. I have always had auto draft from my debit card linked to my checking account. I have never had a problem with them until December 2012. In December and January of this year when the auto drafted my account it comes back to them as “Do Not Honor” not NSF (cause the money was there). After speaking with them and the bank about it neither of them can tell me what “do not honor” means and why it wouldn’t go through. The bank didn’t even show a record of it trying to come through thoseonths. However they could take my same card # over the phone and do it manually and it would work. Actually called today to check to see if it came through for February but they couldn’t tell yet. The lady I spoke to today says that is could simply be that MasterCard was spelled different for those 2 months. Not sure if that would make a difference or not and considering it’s auto draft how would it have gotten changed. But after that phone call I still don’t know if my payment went through. Luckily the ladies who work in my agents office will call and let me know it didn’t go through so I could take care of it and it not get cancelled.

  • aimlessdaze

    After the way they treated homeowners in Florida after the one hurricane…………. dropping SO many people who depended on them…. I’d never trust them. Stories like this need to get out. Responsible people pay into the insurance system YEAR AFTER YEAR with no claims…….. and then when they need help they are denied! SO WRONG. :(

  • tecaterider

    I dropped State Farm many years ago for something very similar when my vehicle was hit in a parking lot. They wanted to cancel me after 20 years never a claim. Long story short, I am glad my money doesnt go to them. People DROP State FARM NOW!

  • Patty

    State Farm royally screwed us over with our homeowner’s insurance. We had some storm damage to our roof and our local agent told me to have a contractor come out, give us an estimate and they’d pay it. NOT. when they received the estimate, THEY sent someone out there to estimate the damage and ended up only paying us a paltry $250! I kept sending the check back to them and they’d send it right back to me. I told them I didn’t want to file a claim if that’s all it was going to pay, but they said “too late”. They dropped us after that.

    I have no use for State Farm. I wish I’d known then what I know now. REPORT STATE FARM TO THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU!!!

  • Justin

    So while reading this article I noticed 3 ads for State Farm. Really way to sell your soul WREG. I even took pics but cant attache them here.

  • Jennie

    According to the article, “According to the accident report, Emil was trying to pull out onto Highway 64, in a right turn lane, when a silver Subaru Impreza hit them.” This would mean that they pulled out in front of the Subaru so regardless if the person had insurance or not the person that pulled in front of the Subaru would be liable; of course insurance is going to side with the person that was not at fault vs the person that was. Also, if you watch the video you will see the drawing on the police report that again shows they pulled out in front of the Subaru. Just because you pay premiums doesn’t mean an insurance company has to side with you if you make a mistake and cause an accident. It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s also the reality of the business.

    • Jason

      That was not the case, he was not in the lane when the Subaru driver pulled over and got into the far right lane……also the Subaru was driving at a faster rate of speed than posted AND you would need to investigate the passengers of the Subaru and what has occured with their legal matters.

    • victoria chhun

      You seem to be the only one who seem to understand. I know exactly where the accident happened. What people dont know is, emil was actually trying to make a left turn when pulling it. They just dont want to take fault. Im sorry that a life was loss but thats 2 months after not during the accident. But anyways making a left or right turn, why would you turn when a car is coming especially if the car coming is speeding. O, if the people would have inspected the accident correctly they would know emil family was making a left turn bc of the side subaru hit them. Its not about the insurance not taking their side. Its about the insurance going for who is right amd who is wrong. Obviously the insurance knows more than what other people know. Its sad that people assume that bc she was an old sweet lady, and that the other driver speed w no insurance that its easy to point fingers at him amd say she is innocent. Go by facts people. Evaluate the whole sence. Know the whole story before going after a person. The driver of the subaru is human too. Its easy to point fingers but dont judge from first glance.

      • Joe

        If you have a green turn arrow, you may not be paying attention to the guy speeding coming the other way who runs a redlight.

    • JustMe

      I agree. According to the police report, Emil was coming off of Germantown Pkwy onto Hwy 64, which has a yield sign there. That means that Hwy 64 traffic has the right of way, no matter what their speed or which lane they are in or even if they are switching lanes.
      I don’t have all of the facts, but from what the police report shown has in it, Emil was at fault.

  • Janice

    Farmers Insurance is the absolute best when it comes to a claim. I’ve had it for years, along with others I know. There have never been any problems. Farmers is the way to go!

  • Bubba

    Clearly profit motivation for the insurance company to not pay an uninsured motorists claim.
    What really needs to change is jail time for driving without insurance.

  • Joe

    I think all the people that are talking about it be Emil’s fault are not paying attention to the verdict. For the verdict to go against the uninsured motorist it means they were at fault. It is not a yield sign at that intersection it is a redlight. So did the Subaru run the redlight and that is why the Sadowski’s got hit.

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