Suit over Hurricane Rita damage settled minutes before trial

David Yates May 28, 2008, 11:34am

Minutes before the start of a civil trial in a Beaumont court, jurors were told that they don't have to go home but they can't stay here, as the case of Jessie Burkes vs. Joseph Victorian was settled on Wednesday, May 28.

If the lawsuit had gone to trial, jurors would have been asked to decide if a local landlord negligently failed to disclose that his apartment property was prone to flooding.

Jessie Burkes filed suit against Joseph Victorian in May 2006, claiming his apartment flooded during Hurricane Rita, "but not because of hurricane force winds or storm surge," according to Burkes' suit.

On Sept. 1, 2005, Burkes rented an apartment from Victorian located at 1260 Gunter Street in Beaumont.

In his suit, Burkes alleged that although Victorian was aware of repeated instances of prior flooding during heavy rains, he chose not to disclose this to him.

"On or about Sept. 24, 2005, during Hurricane Rita but not because of hurricane force winds or storm surge, Burkes' apartment experienced flooding, ruining or damaging many of his personal possessions," the suit states.

"Plaintiff estimates the value of these possessions at $5,000 to $10,000, although this is not a precise estimate. Defendant acted negligently, recklessly, or intentionally in failing to inform Plaintiff that the apartment in question was prone to flooding."

Burkes argued that had he been aware of the flooding issues, he would not have signed the rent contract.

Burkes was suing Victorian for actual damages and for punitive damages under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, "if the failure to disclose was reckless or intentional," the suit states.

The settlement amount was not disclosed.

Reaud, Morgan & Quinn attorney John Werner represented Burkes.

Victorian or his revocable trust was represented by John Stone.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District, presided over the case.

Case No. D176-976

More News