Photo of Liberty Ritchie

Liberty Ritchie grew up in Provo, Utah, but moved to Oklahoma when she was 14 and has called Oklahoma home ever since. Less than a year after she moved to the state, Moore, Oklahoma was devastated by an EF5 tornado. Liberty and her family volunteered for cleanup efforts in the storm’s aftermath. It was the first time she witnessed the destruction and very real human cost of a natural disaster. The experience made a lasting impression on her and later sparked her interest in first-party property insurance litigation.

As an adoptee, Liberty was exposed to the legal world at a young age through the adoption process. She saw the power the law had to change lives and decided early on she wanted to learn to use it for good. In pursuit of this goal, she attended the University of Oklahoma, her stepfather’s alma mater. During her time at the University of Oklahoma, she rushed Alpha Chi Omega and participated in numerous fundraisers and events in support of their philanthropy, which focuses on domestic violence awareness and prevention. Her involvement further solidified her desire to learn how to use the law to help people in their most vulnerable moments.

After graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Liberty attended the University of Oklahoma College of Law. There, she served as an Assistant Managing Editor for the American Indian Law Review, where she researched the effect recent judicial decisions interpreting the Indian Child Welfare Act had on adoptees and their families. During her first year of law school, she worked for a family law firm and volunteered with Oklahoma Legal Aid to connect low-income individuals with free legal services. In May 2021, she joined Merlin’s OKC office as a law clerk, where she was immediately drawn to the firm’s collaborative, client-first approach. She also loves the inclusive, supportive culture of the firm, and that her coworkers championed her and her success the same way they do that of their clients. So, after graduating from law school with honors in the top ten percent of her class and passing the bar, Liberty was thrilled to join Merlin Law Group’s OKC team full-time as an attorney. Her favorite part of the job is interacting with policyholders, but she also enjoys drafting briefs and conducting research to help her team make winning legal arguments. Every day, Merlin Law provides her with the opportunity she had been looking for to use her legal knowledge to advocate for people when they need it most.

Lately, it seems defense counsel is removing nearly every insurance case to federal court. They usually accomplish this by asserting diversity jurisdiction. For those who aren’t familiar, federal diversity jurisdiction refers to a legal principle that allows civil cases involving parties from different states with more than $75,000 at stake to be heard in federal, rather than state, court. The party asserting federal jurisdiction exists bears the burden of proving it.

Continue Reading The Problem with Post-Removal Jurisdictional Discovery in Federal Court

In early June, Farmers Insurance Group announced it would cease issuing new homeowners policies in Florida for the foreseeable future. A Farmer’s spokesperson explained the decision, stating, “[w]ith catastrophe costs at historically high levels and reconstruction costs continuing to climb, we implemented a pause on writing new homeowners policies to more effectively manage our risk exposure.”1 The announcement comes on the heels of an influx of insurance claims following Hurricane Ian’s widespread devastation to the state.

Continue Reading Farmers Insurance Halts Sale of Homeowners Policies in Florida

In late January, I wrote a blog post highlighting the absence of any published market conduct exams on the Oklahoma Insurance Department website after 2009, despite the OID’s claim that “[a]s part of the regulation process, we perform and publish Market Conduct Examinations.” In an attempt to figure out what was going on, I submitted an open records request seeking all OID market conduct exams conducted after 2009 and promised I would keep everyone posted.

Continue Reading The Case of the Missing Market Conduct Exams: Part II

If you read this blog or are active on any kind of social media, you’ve heard of ChatGPT by now. The artificial intelligence platform seems to be taking the world by storm, as people use it for everything from complex coding to writing grocery lists. The possibilities are quite literally endless.

Continue Reading The Future of Property Insurance: The Impact of Using AI on Claim Handling

Nobody likes coinsurance penalties.1 For policyholders, they can be unforeseen, confusing, and costly. For policyholder advocates, they can present a host of legal issues that are difficult and time-consuming to navigate. Some of those issues have been addressed on this blog, including the coinsurance clause enforcement, agent liability, and valuation disputes.

Continue Reading Coinsurance in Court – Who Has the Burden of Proof?

On the night of February 26th, at least seven tornadoes tore through the Oklahoma City area, setting the record for most active tornadoes in February in Oklahoma history.1 The tornados and accompanying high wind speeds and hail caused widespread destruction and at least twelve injuries – thankfully, none of which are reported to be fatal.2 At the storm’s peak, OG&E reported 33,000 people were without power.3 The bulk of tornado damage occurred in Norman, Oklahoma – where I live – but the storm system caused damage throughout the south-central US, with 114 mile per hour winds reported in Texas.4 Photos of destroyed buildings, downed trees and powerlines, and flipped cars covered front pages Monday morning, highlighting just how extensive the damage is.

Continue Reading Late February Tornados Rip Through Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Insurance Department has released its 2022 Annual Report. Every year, the OID compiles a report summarizing the required financial disclosures of insurers in the state, highlighting new legislation, and breaking down certain regulatory activity taken by the department (although information about market conduct exams is noticeably missing). Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the more interesting information and statistics from last year:

Continue Reading Oklahoma Insurance Department’s 2022 Year in Review

As a law firm whose sole focus is representing policyholders in insurance disputes, we spend a lot of time alleging insurance companies are engaging in bad faith practices and fighting tooth and nail for evidence that demonstrates this. We get what information we can through the discovery process, the rules and logistics of which can vary drastically depending on the state, the court, and even the judge. Discovery must be tailored to each individual case, and insurance companies invariably object to requests for information about wider business practices or schemes as too vague, too broad, too burdensome, or irrelevant. This can make obtaining any evidence of bad faith practices we already know are occurring a long and costly battle.

Continue Reading The Case of the Missing Market Conduct Exams

The Wyoming Department of Insurance regulates the state’s insurance industry. One way it does this is by investigating consumer complaints against insurance companies, agents, and adjusters. If your claim has been delayed, denied, or underpaid, or your policy has been unfairly cancelled or terminated, you can file a complaint with Wyoming DOI requesting an investigation.
Continue Reading How to File a Complaint with the Wyoming Department of Insurance

The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance regulates the state’s insurance industry by investigating consumer complaints against insurance companies, agents, and adjusters. If you think that your insurance claim or policy has been delayed, wrongly denied, deliberately underpaid, or improperly managed, you can file a complaint with OCI and request an investigation.
Continue Reading How to File a Complaint with the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance