David Yates Jan. 21, 2016, 4:58pm


DALLAS - A hailstorm plaintiff represented by the Mostyn Law Firm recently filed a motion seeking exemption from mediation, accusing State Farm Lloyds of bad faith dealings for essentially not agreeing to a settlement that is worth three times the value of the insured’s home.

Maria Ontiveros filed suit against State Farm on June 12, 2014, in Dallas County District Court, arguing her insurer undervalued her property damage claim following a June 13, 2012 hailstorm.

In her motion for mediation exemption, filed Nov. 17, Ontiveros contends “it has become abundantly clear” that State Farm has no intention of engaging in good faith mediations with her counsel, Houston attorney and firm founder Steve Mostyn, asking the court to excuse her from an upcoming mandatory settlement conference.

Court records show that within 14 days after Ontiveros made her policy claim, State Farm cut her a check for around $7,000.

“Plaintiff never indicated that she was dissatisfied with State Farm’s handling of the Claim until she filed this lawsuit nearly two years later,” says State Farm in its response, filed Dec. 7.

“Since she filed this suit, State Farm has twice extended to Plaintiff generous offers of settlement. Plaintiff ignored those offers and instead sent a settlement demand in an amount that is more than three times the assessed value for Plaintiff’s house.”

While State Farm concurs with Mostyn and Ontiveros that “mediation is unlikely to be fruitful,” the company says in its motion that it felt “compelled” to respond and correct any “misapprehension” Ontiveros may have created regarding State Farm’s efforts to settle the suit.

Court records show that a month after the suit was filed, State Farm offered to settle the case for $23,600. A few months later, Mostyn Ontiveros countered with a demand of $112,000.

Ontiveros’ home was valued at $32,880 in 2012.

On Oct. 1, 2014, State Farm again offered to settle the case for $23,600. And again, Ontiveros ignored the offer, the response states.

“While State Farm does not oppose Plaintiff’s request to dispense with the mediation requirement in this case, Plaintiff’s claims that State Farm and the undersigned attorneys have not acted in good faith with respect to other mediations are without merit and should be disregarded,” the response states.

“With respect to this case, State Farm has been more than generous in attempting to achieve a settlement. In its estimate, State Farm acknowledged coverage for $9,000 in property damages and twice made offers to settle this case by payment of an additional $23,600.”

State Farm further contends its attorneys have at all times have acted in a professional and ethical matter, taking “great umbrage (offense) at the personal aspersions (slanders) directed at them in Plaintiff’s motion.”

State Farm is represented by Neil Rambin, Kimberly Steele and Scott Brinkerhoff, all attorneys for the Dallas law firm Sedgwick LLP.

Case No. DC-14-06334

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