Beaumont woman seeks additional payment from Lloyd's over hurricane claim

Kelly Holleran Jan. 13, 2009, 8:31am

A Jefferson County woman has filed suit against Underwriters at Lloyd's London, Crawford and Company and one of its adjusters, alleging she was not paid money to which she was entitled after Hurricane Rita destroyed sections of her home.

When Helen Thomas's property at 875 Neches St. in Beaumont sustained roof, water, wind and structural damage on Sept. 24, 2005, during the storm, she submitted a claim to Lloyds, which had insured her property, according to the complaint filed Jan. 6 in Jefferson County District Court.

Thomas requested Lloyd's cover the cost of repairs and asked for additional living expenses, the suit states.

However, Underwriters denied Thomas's claim, even though their policy promised coverage for such losses, the couple claims.

It denied the claim after assigning an adjuster � James Shafer Jr. from Crawford & Co. -- to adjust the claim, according to the complaint.

Lloyd's told Thomas 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 Plaintiff's claim in a fair manner, although they were aware of their liability to Plaintiff under the Policy," the suit states.

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

The company failed to explain the reason for their offer of an inadequate settlement, another violation of the Texas Insurance Code, according to the complaint.

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

Shafer and Crawford and Company violated the Texas Insurance Code because they misrepresented material facts relating to the coverage, according to the complaint.

Lloyd's, Shafer and Crawford 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 Lloyds, Crawford and Shafer knew were false or made recklessly without any knowledge of their truth as a positive assertion," the suit states.

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

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

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield, 126th District Court.

Case No. D182-974

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