State Farm does not owe underinsured motorist benefits, jury finds

By David Yates | May 9, 2011

Although a Jefferson County jury recently found an underinsured motorist was negligent in causing a collision with plaintiff Sheila Branham, jurors opted not to levy any damages against the woman's insurance company.

As previously reported, Branham filed a lawsuit May 12, 2009, in Jefferson County District Court against State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance, alleging the company wrongfully denied her claim for underinsured motorist protection benefits.

The trial began May 2 and ended four days later on Thursday, May 5.

Court records show Branham was involved in a rear-end automobile collision with Lisa Kimball on March 20, 2006.

"Said collision was caused by one or more negligent acts and/or omissions on the part of the said LISA KIMBALL, which negligent acts were the producing cause of personal injuries to Plaintiff, SHEILA BRANHAM," the suit states.

Jurors, when asked to determine if Kimball caused the collision, answered "Yes," according to the charge of the jury.

However, jurors elected not to award Branham any damages for her alleged mental anguish, lost earnings, impairment and medical expenses.

According to court records, with State Farm's permission, Branham settled underlying claims against Kimball and Kimball's insurance carrier.

After settling, Branham filed a claim with State Farm for underinsured motorist protection benefits, but it denied her claim, Branham claims.

Brandon P. Monk of The Monk Law Firm in Port Arthur represents her.

State Farm is represented in part by attorney William Jackson.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, presided over the trial.

Case No. D184-046

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