Jury awards 5 times more to attorney than plaintiff

David Yates Jul. 1, 2010, 4:37am

Nashib Investments landed a $29,550 jury award on Monday for damages to its property on Major Drive following Hurricane Ike. However, the company also witnessed jurors award $165,000 to its attorney.

Last August, Nashib Investments filed suit against Y.K. Man and his insurance agency, alleging the agent negligently allowed the company's windstorm insurance policy to lapse days before Hurricane Ike made landfall on Sept. 13, 2008.

From Sept. 8, 2009, to Sept. 15, 2009, TWIA placed a moratorium on writing insurance policies, but Nashib Investments claims it had authorized Man to renew the policy two weeks earlier, court papers say.

The trial of Nashib Investments vs. Y.K. Man began June 21 in Judge Bob Wortham's 58th District Court and ended seven days later.

Jurors found Man negligent in failing to expedite renewal of Nashib Investments' Texas Windstorm Insurance Policy, awarding the company $9,500 in actual damages to its property and $20,000 in exemplary damages.

Jurors also awarded Nashib Investments' counsel, Houston attorney James Amaro, $165,000 in attorney's fees and court costs.

During the trial, the defense attempted to shift blame to Nashib Investments' bank, contending Prosperity Bank did not cut the policy check in time to beat the moratorium.

The defense also asserted TWIA was too slow in mailing its renewal package.

Conversely, plaintiff's attorney Amaro argued a "prudent" insurance agent would have acted with urgency and contacted both Prosperity and TWIA in attempt to speed up the process.

"TWIA didn't do anything wrong ... if we could have sued TWIA we would have," Amaro told jurors in closing arguments, adding that it was Man's duty to call the bank and have Prosperity expedite the check if that's what he was waiting on.

Jurors found no negligence on the part of Prosperity, Nashib Investments or TWIA, placing 100 percent of the blame on Man.

Man was represented by Houston attorney James Ebanks of the Ebanks, Taylor and Horne law firm.

Case No. A184-754

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