Evidence Of Claim Value

Fort Worth insurance lawyers have to be able to prove, with evidence, the value of claims presented.
The Corpus Christi Court of Appeals issued an opinion that dealt with evidence in a claim in September of 2013. The style of the case is, Hennen v. Allstate.
The case is an appeal from a summary judgment in favor of Allstate. Here is some of the analysis made by the Court in upholding the judgment in favor of Allstate.
In its motion, Allstate argued, among other things, that it was entitled to a no-evidence summary judgment and argued on the following grounds:
The plaintiffs can present no evidence of the damages sought against Allstate for the alleged lack of cooperation cause of action. The Hennen’s allege that as a result of Allstate’s refusal to allow access to its expert Mark Babb that they settled their claim for 1/5th of its true value of $200,000. No trial was held. The Hennens voluntarily chose to settle their claim for $40,000. They can present no evidence that their claim against Direct TV was worth $200,000 nor can it provide any evidence that it would have prevailed and recovered a judgment of $200,000 (or any other amount for that matter) against Direct TV. There is simply no evidence of damages as a result of Allstate’s alleged refusal to share its expert Mark Babb.
Further, the Hennens can present no evidence of extreme emotional distress, loss of income, or destruction of their credit reputation as to their bad faith claims.
In their response, the Hennens argued as follows:
During December 2010, Allstate, for some unknown reason, except to harass, prohibited cause-of-fire experts to testify in a lawsuit filed by the Hennens against the parties responsible for causing the fire which destroyed the home of the Hennens. That suit was filed by the Hennens to mitigate their damages in this suit and since Allstate refused to make a claim against those third parties on behalf of the Hennens . Such acts and omissions were the direct cause of the Hennens being required to settle their claim in that lawsuit for a sum of at least $160,000.00 less than what was recoverable. Contrary to Allstate’s assertion of who prohibited the expert from testifying, a representative of Allstate named Lisa Susman made this decision.
The Hennens attached documents to their response that they describe as follows:
1. Copy of e-mail from Mark Babb, the engineer employed by Allstate to determine cause of fire on March 5, 2006;
2. Copy of statement furnished by Carol DeBorde, employee of Ken Blanton Insurance Agency, Allstate’s agent;
3. Copy of time-line statement of the Hennens concerning the fire which destroyed their home and subsequent events;
4. Copy of Allstate’s Response to the Hennens’ Request for Disclosure;
5. Letter dated March 3, 2007 from Misty Hennen to Brian White.
Allstate’s motion covered the only two claims alleged by the Hennens: (1) lack of cooperation; and (2) bad faith. The Court addressed each in turn.
First, as to lack of cooperation, the Hennens contend that they sustained at least $160,000 in damages because they settled their claim against Direct TV for $40,000; however, in their response, they did not point out any evidence regarding the actual value of the claim. On its own, the Hennens’ assertion that the claim was worth at least $200,000 is conclusory and speculative and therefore no evidence. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment on this basis.
Second, with respect to bad faith, the Hennens contend that they sustained damages from the “destruction of their credit reputation”; however, in their response, the Hennens did not discuss the destruction of their credit reputation or point out any evidence of such damages. Nor did they discuss or point out any evidence of extreme emotional distress or loss of income. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment on this basis.
This case is a prime example of why an experienced Insurance Law Attorney needs to be involved in these claims.