Sperry man awarded almost $20 million for canceled coverage

Thursday, October 26th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PAWHUSKA, Okla. (AP) -- An Osage County jury awarded a Sperry man almost $20 million Wednesday for a lawsuit he filed after his insurance carrier canceled the liability coverage of his horseshoeing college.

Bud Beaston, owner of the Oklahoma Farrier's College, was awarded $6.6 million in actual damages and $13.2 million in punitive damages. The defendant was U.S. Fidelity and Guaranty Insurance of Baltimore.

Beaston, 69, has operated the horseshoeing college for more than 40 years and is known for making prosthetic or artificial limbs for animals.

In 1994, Beaston was sued by a Utah woman who claimed he was negligent in the death of a horse amputee that was brought to him for an artificial leg.

But Beaston's attorney, Tim Best of Skiatook, said the horse's condition was worse than had been described to Beaston and that it had to be euthanized, just as the doctors who had amputated the horse's leg had planned.

In early 1998, the horse owner was awarded $10,000 by a Utah arbitrator after hearing from the owner's witnesses. Beaston could not afford to call witnesses and borrowed money to pay the arbitrator's award, Best said.

More than two years after the Utah suit was filed, the insurance company withdrew its defense of Beaston and its coverage.

Beaston sued the insurance company for intentional and malicious conduct in its breach of contract, Best said.

Best said he expected the insurance company to appeal, but the defendant's attorneys could not be reached for comment.

Beaston has taught thousands of students the craft of horseshoeing, animal anatomy and corrective shoeing at his farrier's college.