Articles Posted in Hail Claims

Hail damage claims result in lots of lawsuits.  Here is a 2023 opinion from the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division.  The opinion is styled, John Kazanjian and Patricia Kazanjian v. State Farm Lloyds.

State Farm had made a settlement offer that was substantially less than what Plaintiff’s felt was fair.  A lawsuit resulted and after much discovery and testimony of experts on both sides, State Farm filed this partial motion for summary judgement.

Defendant argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ Unfair Settlement Claims because there is no evidence that it acted in bad faith during the course of investigating
Plaintiffs’ insurance claim.  Plaintiffs’ Unfair Settlement Claims, if successful, would permit recovery under section 541.060 of the Texas Insurance Code.  And to recover under section 541.060, the insured must prove that the insurer acted in bad faith.  The bad faith requirement for claims under section 541.060 is the same as the Texas common law standard for bad faith.

Bad Faith Law Firms will have a frequent question asked of them.  That question is, “Can I Recover My Attorney Fees.”

One segment of the attorney fees question is addressed in a 2023 opinion from the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.  The opinion is styled, Gilbane Building Company, Inc. v. Swiss Re Corporate Solutions Elite Insurance Company d/b/a North American Elite Insurance Company and Everest National Insurance Company.

Gilbane brought this lawsuit against Swiss asserting causes of action under the Texas Insurance Code and as part of the claim, sought recovery of attorney fees.  Swiss filed a motion to exclude attorney fees based on the assertion that Gilbane had not complied with Section 542.003(a) of the Texas Insurance Code, in that the presuit notice requirement had not been satisfied as required by that statute.

Hail claims are a frequent source of litigation.  Sometimes and expert is needed in these cases.  The issue of using an expert in a hail damage case arose in this 2023 opinion from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.  The opinion is styled, Mohamed Bakri v. Nautilus Insurance Company.

This case arises out of Plaintiff Mohamed Bakri’s insurance claims for wind and hail damage.  Bakri alleges that a winter storm during the Policy Period caused significant damage to his properties.  After an investigation, Nautilus refused to cover the damage, claiming that it was merely cosmetic.  In addition, Nautilus determined that any impairment beyond cosmetic damage occurred before the Policy Period.

Bakri sued Nautilus claiming violation of the Texas Insurance Code and breach of contract.  Bakri had an expert to help prove his damages.  Nautilus filed a motion to exclude the testimony of Bakri’s expert, Johnson, and moved for summary judgment.

Claims denial attorneys will on occasion find themselves in a position of needing to hire an expert to help with their case.  The case referenced in the Blog is a hail damage case but the discussion is a discussion on what courts look at when determining whether an experts testimony will be allowed.  The case is from Eastern District of Texas.  The style of the case is, Hilltop Church of The Nazarene v. Church Mutual Insurance Co.

This case has other issues it discusses but here is what it says about experts.

Plaintiff claims that a March 2019 hailstorm caused damage to its property.

Bad Faith insurance lawyers understand that when sending an insurance company a pre-suit demand for damages that sending an improper letter ends up like sending no letter at all under certain circumstances.  One of the issues related to pre-suit notice letters was the topic in a January 2023 opinion from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.  The opinion is styled, J. David Koncak v. American Security Insurance Company.

Koncak suffered a hail damage claim in June 2019 and then again in October 2019.  The claims resulted in a dispute and Koncak hired an attorney.  The attorney sent a pre-suit demand letter as required by the Texas Insurance Code, Section 542A.003(b).  The letter demanded damages in the amount of $550,000 plus $5,000 in attorney fees.

Koncak eventually filed suit.  American Security filed motions contending the notice letter did not satisfy the requirements of 542A.003(b).

Many insurance claims are hard to justify a lawsuit unless the insured can make a claim for attorney fees.  Most insurance claims do allow for recovery of attorney fees.  The caveat is that the claim for attorney fees has to be presented properly.  This includes notice prior to a lawsuit being filed.

Here is another recent (January 2023) case discussing attorney fees.  The opinion is from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.  It is styled, Ghulam Sarwar d/b/a AR2S MGMT Inc. and AR2S MGMT Inc. v. General Star Indemnity Company.

This is a lawsuit arising out of a hail damage claim.  General Star (Defendant) filed a motion to exclude Plaintiffs claim for attorney fees based on the assertion that the required pre-suit notice made via email was insufficient and untimely.  Plaintiff counters that notice was sufficient, if not timely, was not timely due to concerns that the statute of limitations was running.

Attorney fees.  Attorney fees.  Attorney fees.  It’s a big deal.  Questions about attorney fees are common in cases involving insurance claims.  The fairly new Texas Insurance Code, Section 542A deals with attorney fees in specific weather related events, such as hail storms.  A 2022 opinion from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division discusses this issue.  The opinion is styled, Fiberco, Inc. v. Acadia Insurance Company and Union Standard Lloyds d/b/a Union Standard Insurance Group.

The Defendants in this case filed a motion asking the Court to disallow attorney fees for Fiberco.  The Court denied the motion.

A hailstorm damaged Fiberco’s property in 2020.  Fiberco sued the Defendants.  Counsel for Fiberco sent a demand letter in October 2020 demanding $406,678.05 to settle its claim.  That letter also requested reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees but did not demand a specific amount.

A common question for insurance lawyers is whether or not a claimant can recover attorney fees if they file a lawsuit.  This issue is discussed in a 2022 opinion from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.  The opinion is styled, Antonio Mantzuranis v. State Farm Lloyds.

This is a case by Mantzuranis against State Farm for damages resulting from a storm.  State Farm paid the amount they believed owed on the claim but a trial resulted over the unpaid amount.  A jury awarded $84,020.03, less $39,020.03 for “Money Already Paid,” leaving a net of $45,000.  The Court ordered the parties to submit information regarding attorney fees.  Mantzuranis concedes that his attorney’s fees claim is subject to reduction under Insurance Code, Section 542A.

Texas Insurance Code, Section 542A.003(b)(2) applies to actions against insurers, including breach of contract claims, and requires a potential plaintiff to provide to a potential defendant pre-suit notice of “the specific amount alleged to be owed by the insurer on the claim for damage to or loss of covered property.”

As all insurance lawyers know, the Texas Insurance Code requires that prior to filing a lawsuit against an insurance company, that the insured give the insurance company a pre-suit notice.  This issue is discussed in a 2022 opinion from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.  The opinion is styled, Nisha Hospitality LLC d/b/a Shady Oaks Motel v. Scottsdale Insurance Company.
A storm damaged Shady Oaks in October 2019.  Scottsdale estimated the damage at $19,461.40 in terms of replacement cost value.  On November 30, 2020, the public adjuster Shady Oaks hired (Pinnacle) sent Scottsdale its estimate of $87,270.91.  Pinnacle sent this estimate twice more on subsequent dates.  Counsel for Shady Oaks again sent the same demand for $87,270.91 on June 9, 2022, less than 61 days before filing suit.
Texas Insurance Code section 542A.003 requires that “not later than the 61st day before the date a claimant files an action . . . the claimant must give written notice to the person in accordance with this section as a prerequisite to filing the action.”

It is important in an insurance lawsuit whether or not the insurance company is subject to being sued for bad faith claims handling or whether or not there is a bona fide dispute about coverage.  A bona fide dispute rids the lawsuit of claims related to bad faith issued.

This was the issue in a 2022 opinion from the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division.  The opinion is styled, David McArthur, Jean McArthur v. Safeco Insurance Company of Indiana.

This is a firstparty insurance dispute arising out of alleged damage to residential property as a result of a wind and hail storm.  Plaintiffs are the owners of an insurance policy (“the Policy”) issued by Defendant Safeco.

Contact Information