Local man alleges Ike claim improperly denied, sues Capitol County

Kelly Holleran Feb. 12, 2009, 5:47am

A Jefferson County man has filed suit against Capitol County Mutual Fire Insurance Company and an adjuster, alleging he was not paid money to which he was entitled after Hurricane Ike destroyed sections of his home.

When Johnny Dent's property at 4075 Howard St. in Beaumont sustained damages on Sept. 13 during Hurricane Ike, he submitted a claim Capitol, which had insured his property, according to the complaint filed Jan. 26 in Jefferson County District Court.

"Plaintiff's property and residence sustained structural and water damages including damages to his roof, siding, walls and ceilings and floors," the suit states. "Since then storm mold has been growing on the ceilings due to the water which entered into the Property as a result of other damages."

Dent requested Capitol cover the cost of repairs, the suit states.

However, Capitol denied Dent's claim for the repairs of his property, even though the policy provided coverage for losses, he claims.

It denied the claim after assigning an adjuster � James Mayfield -- to adjust the claim, according to the complaint.

Capitol told Dent 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 Capitol and Mayfield 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.

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

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

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

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

Mayfield's conduct constitutes multiple violations of the Texas Insurance Code because he misrepresented material facts relating to the coverage at issue, according to the complaint.

His unfair settlement practice is an unfair method of competition and an unfair or deceptive act or practice, the suit states.

Capitol and Mayfield are liable to Dent for a conspiracy to commit fraud, according to the complaint.

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

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

J. Steve Mostyn of The Mostyn Law Firm in Houston and Michael R. Ramsey and Phil Kanayan of The Mostyn Law Firm in Beaumont will be representing him.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court.

Case No. B183-129

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