Two Galveston County residents are suing over claims their insurance company inadequately inspected their claim after their business was vandalized.

George and Claudette Ronan, individually and doing business as Ronan Southwest Industrial Company, filed a lawsuit Oct. 15 in Galveston County District Court against Essex Insurance Company, Markel Service Incorporated, Brush Country Claims, Christopher Howell and John Irwin, citing fraud.

According to the complaint, the Ronans' property on Alaska Avenue in League City was vandalized Nov. 13, 2013, when unknown persons took copper wiring from the premises, damaging the electrical and furnace systems and damaging the structure in order to gain access.

The complaint states the Ronans submitted a claim to Essex, which commercially insured the property, and that Essex assigned Markel, which then assigned Brush Country, to adjust the claim, with Howell and Irwin as the individual adjusters.

The Ronans say Howell was improperly trained and spent only 20 minutes inspecting the property, failing to note all the damage and telling the Ronans their losses would be covered when they ultimately were not. Additionally, the plaintiffs say Irwin approved Howell's inaccurate report.

The lawsuit states the defendants performed an outcome-oriented investigation, undervaluing the claim, delaying payment and not timely accepting or denying the claim and, ultimately, telling the plaintiffs the losses were not covered by the policy when, in fact, they are. The defendants are accused of noncompliance with the Texas Insurance Code, unfair settlement practices, fraud,and conspiracy to commit fraud. Essex is accused of breach of contract, noncompliance with the Texas Insurance Code, the prompt payment of claims, acts constituting acting as agent and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing.

The Ronans seek more than $200,000 in actual damages, including the amount of their claim plus interest, attorney fees and court costs.

They are represented by attorney J. Steve Mostyn of The Mostyn Law Firm in Houston.

Galveston County District Court case number: 14-CV-1090

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