Homeowner alleges Capitol County improperly denied hurricane claim

Kelly Holleran Jan. 30, 2009, 3:00am

A Jefferson County man has filed suit against Capitol County Mutual Fire Insurance Company, alleging he was not paid money to which he was entitled after Hurricane Rita destroyed sections of his home three years ago.

When Patrick Cane's property at 1430 Waco Ave. in Port Arthur sustained damages on Sept. 25, 2005, during the storm, he submitted a claim to Capitol County, which had insured his property, according to the complaint filed Jan. 12 in Jefferson County District Court.

Cane requested Capitol County cover the cost of repairs, the suit states.

However, Capitol County improperly denied Cane's claim for the replacement of his property, even though the policy provided coverage for losses, he claims.

Capitol County told Cane it would not pay the full proceeds of the policy, although demand was made for it, which constitutes a breach of the insurance contract, the suit states.

"Defendant misrepresented to Plaintiff that the damage to the property was not in excess to the amount paid, even though the damage was caused by a covered occurrence," the suit states.

Capitol County also failed to make an attempt to settle Cole's claim in a fair manner, a violation of the Texas Insurance Code, unfair settlement practices, they claim.

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.

Capitol failed to affirm or deny coverage of the claim within a reasonable time frame, the suit states.

Cane alleges Capitol County refused to fully compensate him, even though it did not conduct a reasonable investigation. The failure to conduct a reasonable investigation constitutes another violation of the Texas Unfair Competition and Unfair Practices Act, Cane alleges.

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

Cane is seeking three times his actual damages, plus consequential damages, attorney's fees, costs, post-judgment interest of 18 percent per annum and exemplary damages.

Jason M. Byrd of Snider and Byrd in Beaumont will be representing the plaintiff.

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield of the 136th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: D183-008.

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