HOUSTON – A Texas insurance company is disputing the exclusion of pre-trial evidence in a legal battle with a Lone Star hotel over hailstorm damage.
In a July 25 ruling, Chief United States District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas, denied Lexington Insurance Co.’s motion to strike Metro Hospitality Partners LTD, Crowne Plaza Hotel (Metro) expert witness and denied Metro’s motion to revise the judgment over a 2013 hailstorm reimbursement case.
Soon after on Aug. 4, Lexington continued to fight for said expert's expulsion by asking the federal court to “exclude matters that are inadmissible, irrelevant, or prejudicial,” according to a petition filed.
The hailstorm damage, which resulted in Lexington paying out almost $600,000 after deductible and depreciation to Metro, is still being disputed. While Metro alleges Lexington failed in “good faith and fair dealing,” Lexington countered, claiming it fulfilled its end of the bargain and owes no money to Metro, who has presented no evidence to prove otherwise.
“The court found that until Metro complied with the duty to cooperate in the claims investigation, Lexington had no obligation to pay any part of the additional disputed portion of the claim,” wrote Rosenthal in his opinion.
After breaking down the argument under applicable legal standards to alter or amend a judgment and to strike testimony of witnesses with specialized knowledge and analyzing the motion to alter/amend or to strike, Rosenthal considered all noted expert witnesses and weather reports regarding the hailstorm.
“Even if Metro had shown that parts of Lexington’s investigation were unreasonable—which Metro has not shown—Metro cannot show that Lexington’s delay in paying was 'caused by' flaws in the investigation,” the judge wrote in his opinion, adding any “delay in the adjusting process was caused by Metro’s own actions.”
Rosenthal denied Lexington Insurance Co.'s motion to strike Metro Hospitality Partners LTD, Crowne Plaza Hotel (Metro) expert witness and denied Metro’s motion to revise the judgment over a hailstorm reimbursement case. Two weeks later, Lexington filed a petition for 56 specific instances of evidence, statements, claims and arguments it asked not to be admissible in trial.
“If any of the following matters are injected, directly or indirectly, into the trial of this case through a party, an attorney, or a witness, it will cause irreparable harm to Lexington’s case, which no instruction could cure. Upon injection, Lexington will be compelled to move for a mistrial,” according to the petition.
Also on Aug. 4, Metro filed its own pre-trial petition, asking that Lexington not be entitled to assert any exclusion in the policy as a defense or be entitled to affirmative defense submission on “failure to cooperate.” Lastly, Metro pleaded that Lexington not be entitled to “concurrent causation” or “segregation of damages” instructions or submissions.
“Lexington cannot dispute that hail struck the property on April 27, 2013, or that hail is a covered cause of loss. Thus, under the policy, even if the roofs had experienced ordinary wear and tear, the ensuing losses from the covered peril of hail and are covered,” according to the pre-trial petition.
No action has been taken on the matter since Aug. 4.