Proving Hail Losses The Wrong Way Or Not At All

Fort Worth insurance attorneys who handle hail damage claims need to know how “not” to handle the claim. A US Northern District case from the Dallas Division is worth reading to know what courts are looking for in a lawsuit. It is a 2014 opinion styled, Stevenson v. Nationwide.
Stevenson filed a lawsuit against Nationwide. Stevenson’s claims included: (1) breach of contract; (2) violation of Section 542 of the Texas Insurance Code; (3) violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act; (4) violation of Section 541 of the Texas Insurance Code; (5) breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing; (6) fraud; and (7) conspiracy to commit fraud.
Stevenson contends that she is the owner of an insurance policy issued by Nationwide. She states that she owns the insured property. She states that on April 3, 2012, strong storms and tornadoes in North Texas caused severe damage to her home. She submitted a claim to Nationwide for damage, water damage, hail damage, windstorm damage, and mold damage to the Property as a result of the storm. She states that she asked Nationwide to cover the cost of repair to the Property pursuant to the Policy and any other available coverages under the Policy. She contends that Nationwide’s adjuster failed to properly adjust the claim made by her. Additionally, she contends that Nationwide has denied at least a portion of the claim without an adequate investigation. She asserts that Nationwide has failed to compensate her adequately under the terms of the Policy.
Stevenson also contends that Nationwide misrepresented to her that the damage or a portion of the damages to the Property was not covered under the Policy, even though the damage was caused by a covered occurrence.
Nationwide filed a motion for summary judgment, stating that Stevenson has no evidence to support any of her stated claims. Nationwide states that it paid over $150,000 in policy proceeds in response to her claim. Nationwide states that no genuine dispute of material fact exists as to any additional amount that is due or owed. Stevenson did not respond to the motion.
Summary judgment shall be granted when the record shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A dispute regarding a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party.
Once the moving party has made an initial showing that there is no evidence to support the nonmoving party’s case, the party opposing the motion must come forward with competent summary judgment evidence of the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact. On the other hand, “if the movant bears the burden of proof on an issue, either because he is the plaintiff or as a defendant he is asserting an affirmative defense, he must establish beyond peradventure all of the essential elements of the claim or defense to warrant judgment in his favor.”
Mere conclusory allegations are not competent summary judgment evidence, and thus are insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.
The party opposing summary judgment is required to identify specific evidence in the record and to articulate the precise manner in which that evidence supports his or her claim. Rule 56 does not impose a duty on the court to “sift through the record in search of evidence” to support the nonmovant’s opposition to the motion for summary judgment. If the nonmoving party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to its case and on which it will bear the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment must be granted.
In this case, Stevenson’s pleadings are not verified and, therefore, she has presented no summary judgment evidence. Accordingly, the court accepts Nationwide’s facts and evidence as undisputed.
Undisputed Facts
The following material facts are undisputed:
1) Stevenson is the owner of an insurance policy issued by Nationwide.
2) Stevenson owns the insured property.
3) On April 3, 2012, storms and tornadoes struck Dallas County, Texas.
4) The storms on April 3, 2012, caused damage to Stevenson’s property.
5) Stevenson submitted a claim to Nationwide for damage caused by the storm.
6) In response to the claim, Nationwide paid a portion, but not all, of the requested amount.

Stevenson acknowledges that she was at least partially paid, as she states that Nationwide “refused to fully compensate her under the terms and conditions of the Policy.
Nationwide pointed out that there is no evidence to support Stevenson’s case by stating that it had already paid her $150,000 in proceeds for her claim and by stating that she had no evidence to support any of her additional claims. Stevenson did not respond to Nationwide’s motion for summary judgment and did not come forward with any competent summary judgment evidence of the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Stevenson, the party opposing summary judgment, is required to identify specific evidence in the record and to articulate the precise manner in which the evidence supports her claim. She has not provided such evidence. Therefore, Nationwide’s motion for summary judgment was granted, as there was no genuine dispute of material fact regarding any of Stevenson’s claims, and Nationwide is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.