Chaudhury sues insurance provider for deceptive practices

David Yates Jun. 18, 2007, 10:18am

Clay Dugas

Dr. Triptesh Chaudhury, representative of American Medical Consulting, Inc., says he retained the services of the Hotchkiss Insurance Agency and tasked the provider to obtain a policy that would protect his office against hurricane damage.

But after Hurricane Rita struck, Allstate denied Chaudhury's $200,000 claim, informing him the policy contained exclusions for windstorm damage.

Seeking to recover more than $500,000 in damages, the plaintiffs filed their deceptive trade practices lawsuit against Hotchkiss Insurance on June 13. Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, will preside over the case.

Dr. Chaudhury practices radiation oncology in Beaumont and Port Arthur and has been in the profession for 23 years.

"Prior to September, 2005, plaintiffs retained the services of defendant Hotchkiss Insurance to provide advice, consultation; and ultimately, insurance coverage for a building owned by plaintiffs in Jefferson County," the suit said. "The policy was to cover plaintiffs' office and was to include damages caused by windstorm or hurricane. Plaintiffs paid all premiums when due."

The suit puts the blame on the defendant for failing to secure the coverage requested and only providing a policy that covered fire damage.

"On Sept. 24, 2005, plaintiffs' office sustained substantial damage in the amount of at least $200,000. In addition, plaintiffs suffered loss of use of the premises, including loss of rent in the amount of $4,700 per month since (Rita)," the suit said. "Plaintiffs made a claim against its insurer for payment of the losses, but Allstate Insurance denied the claim, asserting the plaintiffs' policy contained exclusions for windstorm and water damage."

The suit goes on to say that the plaintiffs made a "written demand" for windstorm and hurricane coverage – and since Hotchkiss failed to acquire the requested policy, the company is guilty of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and is liable to pay for the plaintiffs' compensation.

"Defendant's conduct was committed knowingly and intentionally," the suit said.

The suit also faults the defendant with violating the Texas Insurance Code (Unfair Claims Settlement Practices), misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty.

The plaintiffs are seeking $200,000 in damages to the office building, $100,000 in back rent, $250,000 for mental anguish and $17,500 for attorney fees.

The plaintiffs are requesting a trial by jury, and are represented by the Clay Dugas & Associated law firm.

Case No. D179-482

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