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‘Banana Lady’ files again (UPDATE)

A Madison entertainer who has made a name for herself by repeatedly filing frivolous lawsuits recently filed her second suit this month associated with a car crash.

In a pro se suit filed July 14 in Dane County, Catherine Conrad, who performs as “The Banana Lady,” claimed she was injured in a June 2008 crash involving Curt Neuhauser and three other cars.

Conrad settled with Neuhauser’s insurer, Progressive Casualty Insurance Co., after the crash. But according to the suit, Conrad claims the companies and Neuhauser, Progressive and her insurer at the time – Amica Mutual Insurance Co. – refused to pay her what she was entitled after she “realized” in March of this year that she was not properly compensated “for her lost wages, pain and suffering or making her whole … .”

Conrad alleges breach of contract and bad faith on all the defendants’ parts, partly under Wisconsin’s Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Act. She seeks a jury trial and $1.45 million: the policy limits for the insurance companies, plus money from Neuhauser’s unnamed homeowner’s insurance company, and 12 percent interest for each year that money has not been paid.

Amica filed a response Thursday denying all allegations. Neuhauser, in an interview Tuesday moring, said Progressive told him it would hire an attorney, though one has not yet entered the case.

Jacob Sosnay, an attorney with Borgelt, Powell, Peterson & Frauen SC, Milwaukee, who represents Amica, said Monday he had no comment, other than pointing to their answer denying Conrad’s allegations.

Catherine Conrad performs as the“The Banana Lady.” (Photo from public court records)

Catherine Conrad performs as the
“The Banana Lady.” (Photo from public court records)

Neuhauser said Tuesday morning that he admitted at the time that it was his fault, but pointed out that he has seen no proof of any medical documentation for her injury. He said that Conrad twice went to his house to talk about the case, and he told Conrad that it should be handled by his insurer.

“With the timeframe that she filed, this just reeks of fraud,” Neuhauser said. “This is crazy (and) very frustrating for me. I’ve never been sued in my life. I’ve hardly ever had an accident, (and) for her to claim this, it’s just a waste of my time.”

Conrad did not immediately return a phone call.

Adding to the list

Conrad filed a similar suit July 7, in which she claimed she lost $10 million in business opportunities after an April car crash. In that case, she’s also seeking the maximum policy payouts from her insurer.

But the new suit is just one of the more than 25 civil and federal complaints that she and fellow Madison residents Rodney Rigsby and Quincy Neri have amassed in the past five years. They have sued more than 100 defendants – with many being sued more than once in state and federal court – and several of the defendants are attorneys and insurance providers who represented other people in prior cases the trio brought.

The majority of the trio’s cases have been thrown out as being frivolous, and they have amassed more than $360,000 in judgments, sanctions and attorney’s fees, with more on the way.

Earlier this month, Dane County Judge John Markson enjoined Neri and Rigsby from filing any new suits against several defendants until their judgments are paid. Markson threatened the possibility of jail time if they continued to try to litigate closed cases.

Conrad recently asked a federal judge to add her as a plaintiff in a case that alleges a Madison attorney used the trio’s copyrighted legal work in settlement talks. Neri has requested the same thing, though the judge has not yet made a decision.

Conrad claims ‘good faith’

In the latest lawsuit, Conrad alleges that Progressive “started to pay out” after Neuhauser accepted full responsibility for the crash.

But in March, according to the suit, she “realized her rights and contracts were violated” by both Progressive and her auto insurer at the time, Amica Mutual. Conrad claims that as she tried to get Progressive to pay out, Amica did not help and that neither properly investigated the crash.

According to her complaint, “Ms. Conrad should have been paid out to buy a new car since the 6-18-08 collision totaled her car.”

Conrad claims she has tried to resolve her claims “in good faith” but that nobody has helped. She even went to Neuhauser directly, according to the suit, and “stopped by Mr. Neuhauser’s home to show him the policy language,” but Neuhauser allegedly told her he “was not interested in resolving anything.”

The suit alleges Neuhauser was on “work time” when the crash happened, as she points out he worked for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation at the time. However, it appears Conrad is not suing him in his official capacity, as she names his personal insurance company and an unnamed homeowner’s insurance company.

Neuhauser said Tuesday that the crash did not happen while he was at work. Instead, it happened while he was driving home.

He added that he frustrated with the suit and how it emerged.

“The courts don’t need to be tied up with this stuff,” Neuhauser said.

Editor’s note: The total amount that Rigsby, Conrad and Neri owe was updated Aug. 1, 2014, to reflect the latest tally. 


About Eric Heisig

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