The SE Texas Record Mar. 14, 2016, 1:19pm


A shakedown is a shakedown. Call it something else and it's still a shakedown.

A mobster may say that he's offering “protection” to business owners, but he and they both know that it's a shakedown and that the only person he's protecting them from – the only person threatening them – is himself.

A self-proclaimed civil rights activist may say that he wants to help protect business owners from boycotts or legal action, but he and they both know that he just wants to be paid to go away.

A shyster lawyer operates in much the same manner. He may say he's representing a client with a legitimate grievance and that he'll consent to a lesser settlement out of court out of the kindness of his heart, but he's really just a shakedown artist.

We have some of these characters here in Texas. They tend to show up after storms and other natural disasters, targeting insurance companies with allegations of underpayments to policyholders claiming damage to their properties.

Granted, insurance companies sometimes do underestimate damages, inadvertently or deliberately, and policyholders sometimes do overestimate damages, intentionally or not, and the courts are an appropriate forum for deciding who's right and who's wrong.

But that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about “the epitome of the all-too-common, inadequate generic Texas insurance pleading.” That's how State Farm Lloyds described the case made by plaintiff’s attorney Bill Voss on behalf of a client claiming underpayment for hailstorm damage.

“Specifically, Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint continues to contain nothing more than generic recitations of the elements of various causes of action and bare bones regurgitation of sections of the Texas Insurance Code without any factual support,” State Farm asserted in its motion for dismissal.

“Even more egregiously, Plaintiff also alleges several types of fraudulent acts and misrepresentations with absolutely no indication of what exactly was false, misleading or misrepresented….”

The case was dismissed with prejudice last month.

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