Ricky McGraw is no stranger to insurance legal controversy. While most defendants in a criminal fraud prosecution remain silent, an article in Florida Daily, Florida Daily Investigations: David vs. Goliath: Florida Contractor Fights Back Against Baseless Fraud Allegations, came as no surprise.

The article noted, in part:

In a shocking turn of events, a general contractor and roofer in Florida finds himself in the crosshairs of Florida’s largest residential insurance company and government authorities alleging fraudulent activities.

The contractor, a David in this modern-day tale, is vehemently denying the allegations and claims that information has been manipulated to tarnish his reputation.

Sources familiar with the story tell Florida Daily, Tower Hill Insurance has continuously suppressed documents and has taken a dishonest position in litigation in order to protect their bottom line and additionally to provide the state with a one-sided case.

At the center of this is Ricky McGraw Jr., a contractor who assists with reconstruction after Florida residents are ravaged by natural disasters, is now facing a daunting legal battle against a Goliath insurance company, which alleges that he committed fraud in his estimating of construction projects.

According to McGraw, the issues arose when Tower Hill realized how many construction projects his company had with their insureds. He says in an effort to either slow him down, or put him out of business completely, Tower Hill first came after him and his family with Civil RICO allegations.

After a nearly four-year legal battle, Tower Hill has yet to be successful in its attempts, so now they are working hand-in-hand with the state to pursue criminal fraud charges.

I mentioned the civil RICO lawsuit1 in Breaking News—Racketeering Lawsuit Against Tower Hill and US Forensics Moves Forward. Eventually, like most civil RICO lawsuits, the case was dismissed.

In criminal cases, the prosecution must turn over all evidence obtained in the investigation showing guilt, as well as evidence that may also indicate reasons for acquittal. Apparently, many of the documents obtained by Ricky McGraw’s attorneys have attorneys for Tower Hill concerned. In a very unusual pleading in a criminal complaint, Tower Hill filed a motion to keep many of those documents secret.

In a motion for a protective order,2 Tower Hill asks the following:

Finally, it is the undersigned counsel’s understanding that certain documents and materials that Tower Hill deems confidential and privileged have been obtained by defense counsel through the course of discovery in this matter. Tower Hill has not waived any privileges or immunities, including but not being limited to attorney-client communications, attorney work product, work product of any kind, and any other privilege or immunity provided by law. Thus, Tower Hill seeks this Court Protective Order for return of such material, an Order that such material shall not be used in this proceeding, and an Order that such material shall not be disseminated to any other person or entity outside the confines of this matter. To the extent appropriate and necessary, Tower Hill respectfully requests that this Court conduct an in-camera review of such material.

Florida law regarding what is privileged in civil first-party cases has been muddled compared to other states. Florida has conflated discovery of a third-party claims file, with discovery of a first-party claims file. Third-party claims files are rarely turned over in discovery. In states other than Florida, first-party claims files are generally discoverable. Tower Hill is making a strained argument that those claims file materials and other internal documents that are part of Florida’s criminal investigation are not discoverable to the criminal defendant, even though the state disclosed them to the criminal defendant in discovery. Tower Hill is making a strained argument that those claims file materials and other internal documents that are part of Florida’s criminal investigation are somehow secret to the criminal defendant despite the state having them and turning them over to the defendant.

The motion notes that the prosecution has already named one of Tower Hill’s attorneys as a prosecution witness in the case. Tower Hill, not Florida, is arguing that Ricky McGraw’s attorneys should not have access to or use those documents during the depositions of that attorney.

The burden to prove guilt in a criminal case is a very high reasonable doubt standard. I have no idea what will happen with this criminal case, but I have a hard time believing that a judge is going to keep the defendant from documents that may shed light even slightly relevant to that standard.

Many, including me, must be wondering, “What does Tower Hill have to worry about by keeping its own documents secret?”

I will keep readers up to date on developments in this case.

Thought For The Day 

Honesty is a very expensive gift, don’t expect it from cheap people. But transparency ensures that honesty is upheld.

—Warren Buffett

1 Tower Hill Signature Ins. Co. v. SFR Services, LLC, No.20-000409-CA (Fla. Cir. Ct.– Martin County).

2 State v. McGraw, No. 23-CF-000937, [Motion for Protective Order] (Fla. Cir. Ct. – Lee County Jan. 31, 2024).