Trial against State Farm put on backburner

David Yates Apr. 30, 2007, 1:00pm

Insurance adjusters working in Jefferson County will continue to collectively hold their breath as the so called "precedent-setting" Hurricane Rita insurance trial was reset due to the sudden illness of an attorney.

The Hugh and Sharon Stovall vs. State Farm trial � the first one of its kind to go to trial in the county� was expected to dictate the future outcome of the numerous other hurricane-insurance lawsuits currently in litigation limbo.

"We're going to reset for sometime down the road," said 58th District Court Judge Bob Wortham, adding that the trial will be rescheduled for sometime during the summer.

The Beaumont couple claims State Farm refused to pay the full amount of their property damage claim the filed following Rita.

State Farm has not publicly said why the company denied the Stovalls' claim.

According to the plaintiffs' amended petition filed with the Jefferson County District Court, the storm caused roof and foundation damage to the Stovall household. The couple filed their claim and State Farm sent two agents to assess the damage.

In their claim, the Stovalls asked for an undisclosed amount to repair their home and for living expenses.

"State Farm wrongfully denied plaintiffs claim for repairs of the property, even though the policy provided coverage for loses," the suit said, adding that defendant did not bother to provide an explanation for the "inadequate settlement."

The plaintiffs' original petition named the agents as defendants, but the pair was later dropped from the suit.

The couple, represented by Michael Ramsey of the Mostyn Law Firm, is suing for the unpaid claim and court costs. According to its Web site, the Mostyn Firm has a practice area devoted specifically to Hurricane Rita insurance claim disputes.

The Stovalls contend State Farm 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.

Case No. A176-860

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