Trial over Hurricane Rita damages underway in Jefferson County

David Yates Oct. 6, 2010, 10:13am


Five years after Hurricane Rita made landfall, Beaumont residents John and Deborah Cahill finally have their day in court and a chance to prove that their insurance company failed to pay the full proceeds of their policy.

The Cahills filed suit against Liberty Mutual and claims adjuster Robert Sherman in August 2007, claiming the defendants failed to fully compensate them after Hurricane Rita walloped the Golden Triangle in September 2005.

The trial of Cahill vs. Liberty Mutual began Tuesday, Oct. 5 in Judge Donald Floyd's 172nd District Court.

With thousands of suits filed against insurance companies over Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike damage claims, the trial has the attention of many attorneys, who outnumber the jurors in Floyd's court listening to testimony.

According to the plaintiffs, their Beaumont residence was covered by an insurance policy issued by Liberty Lloyds and Liberty Mutual.

"On Sept. 24, 2005, Hurricane Rita struck Jefferson County, causing severe damage to homes and businesses throughout the Golden Triangle area, including plaintiffs' residence," the suit states.

The Cahills submitted a claim for water and wind damage, requesting living expenses as well, court papers say.

The insurance company sent Sherman to adjust the claim.

After an inspection, "Liberty Lloyds and Liberty Mutual wrongfully denied plaintiffs' claim for repairs, even though the policy provided coverage for losses such as those suffered by plaintiffs," the suit states.

Sherman was non-suited by the Cahills last May.

The couple accuses the insurance provider of violating Texas' Insurance Code and of committing violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

They are asking jurors to award them actual damages and damages for their mental anguish.

The Cahills are represented in part by Houston attorney Steve Mostyn. Mostyn has filed thousands of hurricane damage claim suits in Southeast Texas courts.

Liberty Mutual is represented in part by attorney Christopher Martin of Houston law firm Martin, Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom.

Case No. E179-743

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