David Yates Jul. 14, 2016, 1:38pm


HOUSTON – July has been a hot month for State Farm Lloyds, with the insurance company defeating three more hail claims brought by Houston trial lawyer Steve Mostyn.

The first win for State Farm came July 5. A federal judge granted summary judgment to the insurer and ordered plaintiff Yolanda Aguilar to pay the company’s court costs, court records show.

Seeking up to $1 million in damages, Aguilar filed suit against State Farm last June in Tarrant County, asserting the company undervalued her claim for damages to her home caused by a hailstorm two years earlier.

The case was removed to the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas, Fort Worth Division in July of 2016.

One year later, U.S. District Judge John McBryde issued a memorandum opinion and order, finding that State Farm’s motion for summary judgment should be granted, court records show.

Court records further show that although the parties completed an appraisal process and State Farm timely paid the appraisal award, Aguilar persisted to assert her claim for breach of contract.

In it’s motion for summary judgment, State Farm argued Aguilar could not prevail on her claims as a matter of law since the process had been completed.

“The summary judgment evidence establishes that, in accordance with the terms of the policy, plaintiff and defendant each appointed an appraiser and the appraisers agreed upon the amount of the loss,” the order states.

“Their agreement fixed the amount of the loss. Defendant timely paid the amount of loss to plaintiff. Accordingly, plaintiff cannot pursue her breach of contract claim.

“Plaintiff’s argument that she can still maintain a breach of contract claim … is without merit.”

Judge McBryde also signed off on a final judgment on July 5, ordering that State Farm recover its costs from Aguilar.

Three days after Judge McBryde’s ruling, on July 8 a federal judge granted State Farm summary judgment in two more hail cases brought through Mostyn on behalf of plaintiffs Michael Powell and Carlos Reyna.

Both cases arise from the 2012 hailstorms that swept through the Rio Grande Valley.

In the Powell case, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez found the plaintiffs failed to “even allege an action which would constitute an independent injury,” court records show.

In the Reyna case, Judge Alvarez kept in line with her Fort Worth counterpart, finding State Farm “sufficiently showed the absence of a genuine issue of material fact by proffering evidence of proper completion of the appraisal process and tendering of payment” to the plaintiffs.

As previously reported, on May 6 Mostyn found himself in Judge Alvarez’s McAllen courtroom to show cause on why he should not be sanctioned for repeatedly bringing factually unsupported storm claims.

The Dallas law firm Sedgwick LLP represented State Farm in the Aguilar case, case No. 4:15-cv-00565-A.

In the case brought by Powell, State Farm was represented by the McAllen law firm Atlas, Hall & Rodriguez, case No. 7:14-cv-00580.

In the Reyna case, State Farm was represented by the San Antonio law firm Jones, Andrews & Ortiz, case No. 7:14-cv-00420.

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