Discovery is now unfolding in a suit brought by the owner of a gas station who claims the man leasing his property committed libel against him by wrongly accusing him of insurance fraud.
As previously reported, Mohammad Swati and Swati Enterprises Inc. filed a lawsuit July 23 in the Jefferson County District Court against Humayn K. Burki.
Court records show the most recent filing in the case came Nov. 6, a certificate of discovery verifying the plaintiff’s request for admissions had been forwarded to the defendant.
In his complaint, Swati claims Burki began publishing statements in December 2012, accusing Swati of committing insurance fraud and habitual fraud. Burki also charged Swati with being a habitual liar, according to the complaint. Burki published statements saying Swati had physically threatened him and cheated him out of $179,000, the suit states.
Swati contends none of the allegations are true and they constitute libel because they injure his reputation.
In his suit, Swati tells his own side of the story. He says Burki was leasing a convenience store and gas station from him when Hurricane Rita struck in 2005. The hurricane damaged the convenience store. However, Swati did not have hurricane and windstorm insurance coverage on the store.
Swati was able to recover some money, which was split among 43 gas stations. Since the insurance claims were settled by a lump sum payment from the insurance company, based on the advice from legal counsel and taking into consideration damages sustained by each individual property, funds were allotted on a pro-rata basis and as evenly as possible, the suit states.
The suit continues by stating Swati issued a check to Burki, but he refused to accept it.
On Aug. 11 Burki answered the suit, denying any accusations of slander, court records show.
Due to Burki’s libelous statements, Swati claims he endured shame, embarrassment, humiliation, mental pain and anguish. He seeks actual and exemplary damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney’s fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.
Attorney Carl A. Parker of The Parker Law Firm in Port Arthur represents him.
Jefferson County District Court case number E195-905