Hail Damage Claim And Adjusters

Fort Worth insurance lawyers handling hail damage claims need to ready an opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division. It is styled, Dianne Leidy, et al v. Alterra America Insurance Company, et al.
Leidy sued Alterra and the adjusters assigned to her claim for hail damage. Leidy alleged her property was damaged during a hail storm on August 16, 2013. Leidy alleged she noticed the damage right after the storm and contacted Alterra by phone. Alterra assigned independent adjusters to adjust the claim. Leidy alleged the adjusters failed to conduct a reasonable and adequate investigation, which resulted in the improper denial of Leidy’s claim. The lawsuit was filed in State Court. Alterra removed the lawsuit to Federal Court asserting that the adjusters had been improperly named as defendants in order to defeat diversity jurisdiction. Leidy then filed a motion to remand the case back to State Court.
In response to Leidys’ Motion to Remand, Alterra concedes that independent insurance adjusters can be liable for violations of the Texas Insurance Code. Alterra argues, however, that Leidy failed to allege an adequate factual basis for imposing such liability on the adjusters, Colley or Voelkner in this case. The adequacy of the allegations in Plaintiffs’ complaint is evaluated, for purposes of the improper joinder analysis, under the “fair notice” pleading standard in Texas courts.
Alterra argues that Leidys’ claims are inadequate because they are mere recitations of the statutory language from the Texas Insurance Code. Alterra’s criticism, however, is refuted by the allegations in the complaint, reviewed under the “fair notice” pleading standard and explained by Leidy in the Motion to Remand. Leidy alleges specifically — and in a separate section relating exclusively to Colley – that Colley “conducted a substandard, results-oriented inspection of the Subject Property and failed to discover covered damages and/or fully quantify covered damages” to the Property. Indeed, Leidy alleges that Colley’s investigation was inadequate and lasted “approximately one hour.” Leidy alleges further that Colley “misrepresented material facts” regarding the existence and extent of the covered losses. Based on these allegations, Leidy asserts that Colley violated Texas Insurance Code Section 541.060(a).
Leidy alleges further that Colley’s results-oriented, substandard investigation led to a coverage decision that was based on Colley’s incorrect belief that there was no hailstorm at the Property on August 16, 2013. Leidy states that there were heavy hailstorms and high winds throughout the Houston area on August 16, 2013, and that the storms were widely reported by the news media. Such post-removal filings may be considered if “they amplify or clarify facts alleged in the state court complaint.”
Leidys’ Petition, as explained in more detail in the Motion to Remand, includes minimal yet adequate factual allegations, including those in a separate section relating only to Colley, to support the Texas Insurance Code claim against Colley. As a result, there is a reasonable basis to predict that Leidy could possibly recover against Colley on this claim in state court.