Trial begins against insurer who declined fire damage claim

By David Yates | May 12, 2010

A fishing boat captain who sued his insurance provider after his fire damage claim was denied is asking a Jefferson County jury to force the company to pay up.

Tuan Tran filed a breach of contract suit against State National Insurance Co. in April 2009, alleging the company refused to honor its policy on his fishing boat, the Miss Diane I, which caught fire while moored to a Port Arthur dock.

Jury selection for the trial of Tran vs. State National Insurance began Wednesday, May 12, in Judge Milton Shuffield's 136th District Court.

Court documents show that the vessel caught fire on April 21, 2008.

Tran made a claim and State National Insurance sent adjusters to evaluate the damage.

"As a result of the fire, the insurable value of the vessel is less than $30,000, diminished from the insurable value under the policy of $350,000," the suit states. "Defendant has failed and refused to settle the claim and make payment as required of it under the policy."

The suit does not state how the vessel caught fire or why specifically State National Insurance denied the claim.

In his suit, Tran alleges State National Insurance is guilty of breach of contract and of violations of the Texas Insurance Code.

Court records show that State National Insurance filed a counterclaim against Tran but non-suited him April 21.

Tran is suing for actual and economic damages.

He is represented by Houston attorney Frank Piccolo.

State National Insurance is represented by Sugar Land attorney Jeffrey Bale.

Case No. D183-813

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