Beaumont woman sues Capitol County over Rita claim

Kelly Holleran Dec. 9, 2008, 5:00am

A Jefferson County woman has filed suit against Capitol County Mutual Fire Insurance Company, ICA Adjuster Inc. and three of its adjusters, alleging she was not paid money to which she was entitled after Hurricane Rita destroyed sections of her home.

Lois Hudson's property at 2235 Hebert in Beaumont sustained roof, water, wind and structural damage on Sept. 24, 2005, from the storm. She submitted a claim to Capitol, which had insured her property, according to the complaint filed Dec. 5 in Jefferson County District Court.

Hudson requested Capitol cover the cost of repairs and asked for additional living expenses, the suit states.

However, Capitol denied Hudson's claim, even though its policy promised coverage for such losses, she claims.

It denied the claim after assigning three adjusters from ICA � Douglas Browning, James Mayfield and Blair Merriam � to adjust the claim, according to the complaint.

Capitol told Hudson the damage to her 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 Plaintiff under the Policy," the suit states.

Capitol also failed to affirm or deny coverage of Hudson's claim within a reasonable time, another violation of the Texas Insurance Code, unfair settlement practices, she claims.

Capitol's behavior constitutes a breach of contract because it did not live up to promises made in its insurance policy with Hudson, 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 Capitol, ICA, Browning, Mayfield and Merriam knew were false or made recklessly without any knowledge of their truth as a positive assertion," the suit states.

Hudson is seeking actual, treble, punitive and exemplary damages, plus attorney's fees, costs, prejudgment and post-judgment interest and other relief to which she may be entitled.

Michael R. Ramsey and Gregory F. Cox of The Mostyn Law Firm in Beamont will be representing them.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court.

Case No. E182-817

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