Shrimpers sue insurance company for breach of contract

Kelly Holleran Jul. 12, 2010, 6:13am

The owners of a shrimp boat have filed suit against their insurance company and two of its agents, alleging their insurance company failed to inform them that their vessel was restricted to a certain area.

Andrew Vo and Viet Le claim they retained an insurance policy through defendant Mid-County Insurance for their vessel, the 1996 F/V "Larry Vo."

The plaintiffs allowed F/V "Larry Vo" to leave port on July 7, 2006, for the opening of the commercial shrimping season, believing they were fully insured through Mid-County, according to the complaint filed June 29 in Jefferson County District Court.

However, the plaintiffs were not aware that G&M Marine had surveyed "Larry Vo" before it left port and issued a "Port Risk" endorsement to the Mid-County policy, meaning the vessel could not leave port until certain survey recommendations were completed, the suit states.

On June 29, G&M informed Mid-County and its agents, co-defendants Chin Pham and Julian Clay Salter III, of the endorsement, but none of the defendants or G&M told plaintiffs of the requirements, the complaint says.

So, when the plaintiffs were sued by Ho Kim Doan on March 28, 2007, for injuries he sustained on the "Larry Vo", they sought full coverage from G&M, plus defense as insureds under their Mid-County policy, they claim. However, G&M denied coverage based on the endorsement, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs allege breach of contract, violations of Deceptive Trade Practices, negligence, violations of the Texas Insurance Code and fraud against the defendants.

They seek a recovery of all amounts they paid or will pay Doan in a settlement with him, plus defense costs they incurred as a result of the settlement. In addition, they are seeking pre- and post-judgment interest at the legal rate, costs, attorney's fees, exemplary damages and other relief the court deems just.

Christy R. Bergeron of Kingsmill Riess in Houston will be representing them.

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

Jefferson County District Court case number: B187-162.

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