Hurricane Rita damages trial enters second week

David Yates Oct. 13, 2010, 3:13am


For the last eight days, 12 Jefferson County residents have been subjected to lengthy slideshow presentations and detailed testimony from insurance adjusters, as the trial of John and Deborah Cahill vs. Liberty Mutual entered its second week.

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 damaged their Beaumont home in September 2005.

The Cahills' residence was covered by an insurance policy issued by Liberty Lloyds and Liberty Mutual.

According to court records and testimony, the couple received money for their claim. However, the Cahills maintain that Liberty Mutual should have paid additional funds to replace all their windows and roof, among other needed repairs.

The Cahills claim that after the storm, "a river of mold" gushed throughout their entire home.

An adjuster for Liberty Mutual testified that the insurance company eventually paid all damages owed under their policy, and that considering the extensive destruction Rita caused throughout Southeast Texas some confusion, delay and error was to be expected.

After the Sept. 24, 2005, storm, 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.

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.

In the years following Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike, thousands of suits have been filed against insurance companies over damage claims.

There are more than a dozen attorneys attending the trial, signaling that the outcome of the case may have an impact on pending insurance litigation.

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.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, is presiding over the trial.

Case No. E179-743

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