Sartin's owners sue to recoup defense costs of previous litigation

Kelly Holleran Nov. 11, 2009, 8:46am

The owners of a seafood business claim their insurance companies refused to pay defense costs they incurred after a company filed a counter-claim against them.

Kimberly Tucker, doing business as Sartin's Seafood, and Emily Summers, doing business as Sartin's West, filed a lawsuit Oct. 30 in Jefferson County District Court against Scottsdale Insurance Company and Republic Lloyds.

Tucker and Summers are not new to the courts. They brought the October lawsuit after settling another lawsuit they initiated in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas against Matthews Restaurants.

The plaintiffs filed the suit Aug. 8, 2008, and Matthews Restaurants filed counterclaims on Oct. 14, 2007, in which it pled advertising injury, according to the complaint.

Once Matthews Restaurants filed the counterclaims, Tucker and Summers submitted claims to their insurance companies for coverage that they say should have been permissible under their policies.

Repeatedly, attorneys for Tuckers and Summers called the insurance companies to ensure they received all needed information to cover the complaints, but kept being told the insurance companies needed more time, the suit states.

In late January 2008, Tucker and Summers settled and their attorney sent copies of invoices to their insurance companies, the complaint says.

"Neither Defendant has replied," the suit states. "Neither Defendant has assumed its duty to defend, or paid the invoices, or offered any basis for not assuming its duty to defend."

Tucker and Summers allege breach of contract, violation of the Texas Insurance Code, noncompliance with Texas Insurance Code, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing and violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

The plaintiffs are seeking to regain the amount of their claim and actual and exemplary damages, plus attorneys' fees, costs, post-judgment interest at 18 percent per annum and other relief the court deems just.

Justin G. Sanderson, Wyatt D. Snider and Jason M. Byrd of Snider and Byrd in Beaumont will be representing them.

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

Jefferson County District Court case number: D185-243.

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