Farmers sued over hurricane claim

Kelly Holleran Feb. 12, 2009, 5:14am

A Jefferson County woman has filed suit against Texas Farmers Insurance Company, alleging she was not paid money to which she was entitled after Hurricane Ike destroyed sections of her home.

When Carrie Harrison's property at 1950 Wilson in Beaumont sustained roof, water, wind, contents and structural damages on Sept. 13 during Hurricane Ike, she submitted a claim to Texas Farmers, which had insured her property, according to the complaint filed Jan. 26 in Jefferson County District Court.

Harrison requested Texas Farmers cover the cost of repairs, the suit states.

However, Texas Farmers denied Harrison's claim for the repairs of her property, even though the policy provided coverage for losses, she claims.

It denied the claim after assigning an adjuster to adjust the claim, according to the complaint.

Texas Farmers told Harrison 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.

"Defendants misrepresented to Plaintiff that the damage to the Property was not covered under the Policy, even though the damage was caused by a covered occurrence," the suit states.

Texas Farmers also failed to make an attempt to settle Harrison's claim in a fair manner, a violation of the Texas Insurance Code, unfair settlement practices, she claims.

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

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

It refused to fully compensate Harrison, even though it did not conduct a reasonable investigation, which constitutes another violation of the Texas Unfair Competition and Unfair Practices Act, Harrison alleges.

Texas Farmers are liable to Harrison for a conspiracy to commit fraud, according to the complaint.

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

The company's unfair settlement practice constitutes an unfair method of competition and an unfair and deceptive act or practice in the business of insurance, the suit states.

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

Michael L. Ramsey, Ryan C. Scott and J. Steve Mostyn of The Mostyn Law Firm in Houston will be representing her.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.

Case No. A183-132

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