Mostyn Law denied new trial in hail suit against State Farm

By David Yates | Feb 16, 2017

HIDALGO COUNTY – In November, The Mostyn Law Firm, located in Houston, was hit with a summary judgment loss in a hail lawsuit against State Farm Lloyds.

Court records show the following month the firm moved for a new trial. On Feb. 15, Judge Mario Ramirez, 332nd District Court, denied the motion, affirming the win for State Farm.

Through Houston attorney Steve Mostyn, plaintiffs Juan Auces and Maria Hernandez filed suit against State Farm and adjuster Mark Vasquez on July 2, 2014 in Hidalgo County District Court, seeking up to $1 million in damages.

According to the original petition, on Oct. 18, 2012 a hailstorm struck Hidalgo County, causing severe damage to homes and businesses throughout the area, including the plaintiffs’ residence.

A claim was made more than a year later and Vasquez was assigned, allegedly spending a “mere” 40 minutes inspecting the plaintiffs’ property and failing to include all of the damages incurred by the storm, leading State Farm to approve an inadequate settlement.

Court records show that on June 6 State Farm and Vasquez moved for summary judgment, stating an appraisal process had been completed and paid, entitling the plaintiffs to summary judgment as a matter of law on the plaintiffs’ contractual and extra-contractual claims.

The appraisal award set the amount of loss at nearly $25,000. Vasquez had estimated the storm damage at almost $13,000.

“By participating in the appraisal process, the parties agreed the appraisal award would ‘set the amount of loss,’” the motion states. “Appraisal has concluded and a binding appraisal award was issued setting the amount of loss. State Farm paid the award within four business days and there are no remaining issues regarding damages or liability.”

The trial court granted State Farm’s motion for summary judgment on Nov. 15, court records show.

A month later, on Dec. 14, the plaintiffs filed a motion for new trial.

“Central to Defendants’ MSJ was their argument that ‘full and timely’ payment of the appraisal award entitled them to a dismissal of Plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim, because payment of the appraisal award estops Plaintiffs from maintaining such claim,” the motion for new trial states.

“However, Defendants’ own summary judgment evidence shows that, contrary to their arguments, State Farm to this date has not issued ‘full and timely’ payment of the appraisal award. When State Farm issued payment for the appraisal award, it paid only the actual cash value of the award, despite Plaintiffs’ policy providing replacement cost benefits.”

State Farm is represented by Sofia Ramon, Dan Worthington, Sarah Nicolas and Elizabeth Cantu, attorneys for the McAllen law firm of Atlas, Hall & Rodriguez.

Case No. C-6115-14-F

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