Eldridge seeks full insurance claim for businesses damaged during Hurricane Rita

David Yates Mar. 29, 2007, 11:00am

R.L. "Gabby" Eldridge had six of his Sabine Pass businesses damaged during Hurricane Rita. His insurance company, Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, is refusing to pay his claims in full, leading the local business man to file suit against TWIA.

Eldridge founded R.L. Eldridge Construction, Inc. in 1967, as a marine construction company to assist the need in repairing and new fabrication of private and oilfield construction alike. In this time he and his son has installed docks, bulkheads, marinas, and piping for many oil companies, the company's Web site said.

He has hired attorney Brandon P. Monk, of the Port Arthur firm McPherson, Monk, Hughes, Bradley, Wimberley and Steele, to help him collect his claim. The law firm is also currently involved in another suit against TWIA.

According to the plaintiff's petition, the properties damaged included a main building, two office buildings, a fabrication building, a warehouse and a shop/warehouse.

The petition says TWIA failed and refused to pay the full proceeds of the policy, which violates the Texas Insurance Code, Unfair Settlement Practices.

The petition also says TWIA breached its contract by failing to comply with the Texas Insurance Code, the Prompt Payment of Claims, and its conduct constitutes a breach of the common law duty of good faith and fair dealing.

According to the petition, the plaintiff is entitled to regain the amount of the claim, as well as 18 percent interest per annum, together with attorney fees.

He is also suing for compensatory damages, including economic hardship, losses due to nonpayment, exemplary damages and damages for emotional distress.

Eldridge is demanding a trial by jury.

He filed his case with the Jefferson County District Court on March 28.

Court assignment is pending.

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