Local woman takes on giant insurance corporation for lawsuit - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Local woman takes on giant insurance corporation for lawsuit

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BOARDMAN, Ohio - A local woman has faced daunting odds, taking on the multi-billion dollar corporation Nationwide Insurance.

A jury awarded her $43 million from the company.

Christine Lucarell opened an insurance agency in 2006 in the Boardman Plaza. She was working to make her dream come true.

Lucarell signed with the Executive Agency Program with Nationwide.

In order to own her own agency and successfully complete the program, Lucarell had to sell $1.2 million in direct written premium; or $400,000 each year for three years.

"I won a Commercial Achievement Award my first year, and I won one of the most prestigious awards with the Conference of Champions, and I ended up winning a Pedal to the Metal contest and went to the Lowes Speedway for selling auto insurance. I worked really hard and surpassed all of my goals," Lucarell says.

However, according to court documents, in 2007 Nationwide issued a Memorandum of Understanding saying it was changing the program.

Lucarell says thats when the goal became unreachable her dreams began to dissolve into a nightmare. She said Nationwide showed her numbers claiming she was failing the program and told her she needed to sign the new contract.

To make matters worse, she claimed they withheld disbursements of a loan.

"They destroyed my credit. I lost my home, my car, I felt like I lost everything I ever worked for, and I lost my career," Lucarell says.

Nationwide offered to write off the loan of $265,000 that Lucarell used to start the business and to pay her $25,000, but she declined.

"I worked nearly 20 years to have that career to my dream and a career isn't worth only $25,000 to me," she says.

With no money or credit, Lucarell says a family member helped her hire an attorney.

"It's not easy finding an attorney who is willing to take on the giant. I believe Nationwide counts on that. They have unlimited resources to fight you," she says.

Lucarell says fighting the insurance company has come at a high cost; so far, the legal battle has dragged on for more than three years.

She tells 21 News attorneys for Nationwide tried to impeach her credibility on a number of issues.

"It's been difficult for me. I've had to endure nasty lies said about me in the press, media and court," Lucarell says.

Attorney Caryn Groedell and Lucarell were able to prove to a jury that Lucarell was actually succeeding and meeting the requirements in the first contract.

The mother cried during the jury's verdict.

"I compare it to, if you're a minnow and you're up against a whale or a shark, you usually get swallowed," she says.

A judge's verdict was to reduce the amount to about $14.5 million. The legal battle continues with Nationwide appealing the case to the 7th District Court of Appeals and attorneys for Lucarell filing a countersuit.

Others have contacted Groedell and she is working to have their claims certified as a class action lawsuit against Nationwide.

Lucarell has advise for others who take on any giant in their lives.

"Don't give up; don't give up your faith, believe in God, tell the truth, because eventually I believe truth prevails and so will justice."

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