Attorneys reap $348K in fees following Hurricane Ike trial

David Yates Jun. 11, 2012, 12:00pm


Plaintiff's attorneys reaped more than $348,000 in fees at the conclusion of a two-week long trial Hurricane Ike trial – an award nearly seven times greater than the amount awarded to the client.

On Oct. 5, 2009, policyholder Maria Escuadra filed suit against Geovera Specialty Insurance, ICA Adjusters and Jade Saucier in Jefferson County District Court, alleging the defendants denied a portion of her insurance policy claim for Hurricane Ike damages.

The case went to trial on May 29 in Judge Bob Wortham's 58th District Court.

According to the charge of the court filed June 8, jurors found that Geovera failed to honor the policy and committed deceptive trade practices.

Jurors awarded Escuadra $51,196.09 for the unpaid damages to her property and mental anguish she suffered.

Jurors also awarded $313,525 in attorney's fees for representation in trial court and an additional $35,000 if the case is appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Texas.

On June 4 an insurance adjuster who worked on Escuadra's claim testified that dozens of pictures of the damage to Escuadra's home did not make it into her file and that management of her case was not in accordance with proper claims handling practices.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, Escuadra's Beaumont home was damaged on Sept. 12, 2008, during Hurricane Ike when a tree fell onto her roof, causing the interior of the residence to suffer considerable water damage.

Her insurer Geovera assigned ICA Adjusters and Saucier to investigate and adjust the claim.

"...Geovera wrongfully denied plaintiff's claim for repairs of the property, even though the policy provided coverage for losses such as those suffered by plaintiff," the suit states.

"Furthermore, Geovera underpaid some of plaintiff's claims by not providing full coverage for the damages sustained..."

Attorney Gregory Cox of the Mostyn Law Firm in Houston represents Escuadra.

The defendants are represented in part by Dallas attorney Rhonda Thompson.

Case No. E185-065

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