Groves man sues Farmers over hurricane claim

David Yates Aug. 2, 2007, 6:16am

Groves resident Jimmie Smith filed a policy claim for property damage with Farmers Insurance Exchange following Hurricane Rita in 2005. He received a sum of money but now, nearly two years later, says it wasn't enough.

Smith filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Farmers with the Jefferson County District Court on Aug. 1.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, Smith "suffered a significant loss to his property" when Rita struck. He filed a property damage claim and requested additional living expenses.

"Defendant failed to properly adjust the claim and summarily improperly paid the claim with obvious knowledge and evidence of serious cosmetic and structural damages, the suit said, adding that .Farmers misrepresented the policy.

The suit alleges that by denying a portion of Smith's claim, Farmers failed to perform its contractual duty.

"Defendant improperly paid plaintiff's claim for replacement of the property, even though the policy provided coverage such losses," the suit said.

"Defendant failed to explain to plaintiffs the reasons for their offer of an inadequate settlement," the suit said, adding that Farmers refused to conduct a reasonable investigation.

The suit faults Farmers for breeching its contract and duty of good faith and fair dealing, and also alleges the insurance company committed several violations of the Texas Insurance Code, in addition to violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Smith is suing for the unpaid claim, actual and compensatory damages, economic and exemplary damages, plus mental anguish and court costs.

Smith is demanding a trial by jury and is represented by attorney Wyatt Snider of the Snider & Byrd law frim.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th Judicial District, will preside over the case.

Case No. B179-739

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