Port Arthur couple sues Allstate over Hurricane Rita claim

Kelly Holleran Dec. 3, 2008, 4:33am

Steve Mostyn

A Jefferson County couple has filed suit against Allstate Texas Lloyd's and four adjusters, alleging they were not paid money to which they were entitled after Hurricane Rita destroyed sections of their home.

Alphonse and Olivia Thomas's property at 1110 Augusta in Port Arthur sustained roof, water, wind and structural damage on Sept. 24, 2005, during the storm. They submitted a claim to Allstate, which had insured their property, according to the complaint filed Nov. 26 in Jefferson County District Court.

The Thomases requested Allstate cover the cost of repairs and asked for additional living expenses, the suit states.

However, Allstate denied the Thomases' claim, even though their policy promised coverage for such losses, the couple claims.

It denied the claim after assigning four adjusters – Ben Brian Evans, Frances Herlock, Michael Own Patrick and Lisa Susman – to adjust the claim, according to the complaint.

Allstate told the Thomases the damage to their property was not covered under the claim, which constitutes a violation of the Texas Insurance Code, unfair settlement practices, the suit states.

"Defendants failed to make an attempt to settle Plaintiffs' claim in a fair manner, although they were aware of their liability to Plaintiffs under the Policy," the suit states.

Allstate also failed to affirm or deny coverage of the Thomases' claim within a reasonable time, another violation of the Texas Insurance Code, unfair settlement practices, the Thomases claim.

Allstate's behavior constitutes a breach of contract because it did not live up to promises made in its insurance policy with the Thomases, according to the complaint.

The adjusters violated the Texas Insurance Code because they misrepresented material facts relating to the coverage, according to the complaint.

The adjusters are also liable for common law fraud, the suit states.

"Each and every one of the representations, as described above, concerned material facts for the reason Plaintiffs would not have acted and which Evans, Herlock, Patrick and Susman knew were false or made recklessly without any knowledge of their truth as a positive assertion," the suit states.

The Thomases are seeking actual, treble, punitive and exemplary damages, plus attorney's fees, costs, prejudgment and post-judgment interest and other relief to which they may be entitled.

Michael R. Ramsey and Gregory F. Cox of Beaumont and J. Steve Mostyn of The Mostyn Law Firm in Houston will be representing them.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court.

Case No. B182-774

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