Suit alleges unfair practices by Capitol insurance

Kelly Holleran Feb. 25, 2009, 12:44pm

A Jefferson County woman has filed suit against Capitol County Mutual Fire Insurance Company, ICA Adjusters and one of its employees, alleging she was not paid money to which she was entitled after Hurricane Ike destroyed sections of her home.

When Bessie Bellard's property at 3465 Maida Road in Beaumont sustained dwelling and contents damages on Sept. 13 during Hurricane Ike, she submitted a claim to Capitol, which had insured her property, according to the complaint filed Feb. 18 in Jefferson County District Court.

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

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

It denied the repairs after assigning an ICA adjuster – Charles Darrin Bigler – to adjust the claim.

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

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

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

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

Capitol, ICA and Bigler are liable for common law fraud because each of their representations contained facts they knew were false, according to the complaint.

Capitol breached its contract with Bellard by refusing to pay the policy, according to the suit.

It also committed numerous violations of the Texas Unfair Settlement Practices.

Bellard is seeking unspecified actual, treble, punitive and exemplary damages, plus attorney's fees, costs, pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief the court deems just.

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

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

Case No. A183-325

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