Hurricane Ike suits start filtering through Orange Courthouse

David Yates Jan. 14, 2009, 5:00am

In the month of December, two Hurricane Ike suits were filed in Orange County District Court -- perhaps signaling an onslaught of Ike suits are on the way.

The first suit, Dawn Dugas vs. Austin Indemnity Insurance Co., was filed Dec. 29 by attorney Jason Byrd of the Snider & Byrd law firm.

In the suit, Dugas claims she was the owner of a homeowners policy issued by Austin Indemnity. Shortly after the Sept. 13 storm, Dugas submitted a claim and was assigned a claim number.

"Defendant failed to properly adjust the claim and summarily improperly paid the claim with obvious knowledge ... of serious cosmetic and structural damage," the suit says. "Defendant failed to perform its contractual duty."

The suit goes on to allege that the insurance company failed to give a reason why it refused to pay the plaintiff the full proceeds of the policy.

Dugas' suit alleges Austin Indemnity breached its contract, committed Deceptive Trade Practice Act violations and is also guilty of several insurance code violations.

She is seeking actual and consequential damages.

The second suit, L.J. Doucet and Pat Doucet vs. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. and Bill Nickum, was filed Dec. 30 by attorney Rodney Townsend, Jr.

In this suit, the plaintiffs claim they had a flood insurance policy with State. Shortly after Ike hit, the plaintiffs submitted a claim through State Farm agent Bill Nickum.

According to the suit, the couple had been paying a $1,000 premium for being in a Zone A flood zone. After their claim was reviewed, they were compensated for being in a Flood Zone C, which has only a $300 premium.

"If State Farm had correctly zoned the Doucets' home, their premium would have been $300 annually and included content damage," the suit states.

"The Doucets have overpaid for insufficient insurance coverage for over 20 years and have been left under insured on their dwelling and uninsured on their contents."

The plaintiffs are suing for actual and consequential damages, plus mental anguish and all court costs.

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