After losing hurricane suit, woman goes it alone and has appeal dismissed

David Yates Mar. 31, 2009, 8:44am

A year after filing an appeal over her Hurricane Rita insurance lawsuit, Mary Harmon had never filed a brief, leading justices on Texas' Ninth Court of Appeals to dismiss her case on Thursday, March 26.

In August 2006, Harmon filed a suit against National Lloyds Insurance and the Kenneth Denby Insurance Agency in Jefferson County District Court, alleging the two insurers stiffed her on her Hurricane Rita policy claim.

According to her suit, Harmon purchased a National Lloyds home insurance policy through Denby on May 1, 2005. She alleges the defendants never informed her that her policy excluded windstorm damage.

Shortly after Rita swept through Southeast Texas that September, Harmon made a policy claim and was denied. "Harmon did not discover the exclusion (of windstorm coverage) until after the loss was incurred on Sept. 25, 2005," the suit states.

Her suit was assigned to 172nd District Judge Donald Floyd and on June 18, 2007, he granted Denby's motion for summary judgment.

A few months later, on Jan. 7, 2008, Judge Floyd also granted National Lloyds motion for summary judgment, prompting Harmon to file a pro se appeal on April 3, 2008.

On appeal, Harmon was hoping to argue that Judge Floyd had erred in granting summary judgment in favor of National Lloyds.

Up until the appellate stage, Harmon had been represented by Beaumont attorney Clay Dugas.

"Mary Harmon filed notice of appeal but failed to file a brief," states a memorandum opinion. "On Jan. 22, 2009, we notified the parties that the brief had not been filed and warned that failure to file a brief could result in a dismissal of the appeal for want of prosecution.

"On Feb. 19, 2009, we notified the parties that the appeal would be submitted to the Court without oral argument. In the absence of a brief assigning error for appellate review, we dismiss the appeal for want of prosecution."

National Lloyds was represented in part by attorney James W. Henges.

Trial case No. E177-575
Appeals case No. 09-08-00165-CV

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