Insurance And Damages

Fort Worth insurance lawyers need to know how to calculate damages under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and the Texas Insurance Code. A Beaumont Court of Appeals is a good case for instruction on this point. The style of the case is, National Lloyds Insurance Company v. Latosha A. Lewis.
The facts of the case are long and need to be read.
This case is an appeal from a jury trial where a jury found in favor of Lewis and against Lloyds for violations of the DTPA and the Texas Insurance Code. Lloyds appealed and the Court upheld the jury verdict with some minor adjustments.
The jury found that Lloyd’s made false representations relating to an insurance policy; misrepresented a material fact or policy provision relating to coverage; failed to make a good faith attempt to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of Lewis’s claim when Lloyds’s liability had become reasonably clear; and failed to promptly provide Lewis a reasonable explanation of the factual and legal basis for denying her claim. The jury awarded economic damages of $56,822.69 for the DTPA violations, as well as mental anguish damages of $10,000, for a total of $66,822.69. In addition, the jury determined that Lloyds committed the DTPA violations knowingly and awarded additional damages in the amount of $133,645.38. Lloyds did not raise an issue challenging the jury’s finding that Lloyds violated the DTPA, but challenges the amount of DTPA damages.
The jury heard evidence from Boswell that Lewis’s policy did not contain language requiring her to replace her entire roof after receiving an insurance payment. Boswell also testified that Lloyds did not pay for Lewis’s evacuation or living expenses because her home was not completely uninhabitable. That representation was made to FEMA, even though there was no such requirement in Lewis’s policy. In addition, the jury heard Boswell testify that the letters Lloyds sent to Lewis probably did not comply with Lloyds’s obligation to explain to Lewis its reasons for denying her claim. The jury also heard testimony that the basis for denying Lewis’s claim was that she had not replaced the roof after her 2005 Hurricane Rita claim. In addition, the jury heard testimony from Spotts that (1) Rendo and Zepeda lacked adequate experience to properly adjust Lewis’s claim, (2) Lloyds closed its file on Lewis’s claim although Zepeda and Rendo had done “little or no investigation” of Lewis’s claim, and (3) Lloyds’s letter to Lewis did not adequately explain why she would not be compensated for the items Zepeda had included in his estimate, and it misrepresents the terms of Lewis’s policy. The jury heard Spotts testify that Lloyds lacked a basis not to pay Lewis for her Hurricane Ike claim, and opine that Lloyd’s was not prompt, fair, or equitable to Lewis.
Moreover, the jury heard Lewis’s testimony that she paid $54,000 for her home, and both Lewis and Boswell testified that the policy limit of Lewis’s policy with Lloyd’s was $54,000. Boswell explained that Lewis’s policy provided $5000 coverage for additional incurred expenses. Furthermore, Lewis testified as to replacement costs for her son’s bed, mattress set, dresser, television, air purifier, clothing, and a table, in the amount of $1210, and she also testified concerning the $200-300 of additional expenses that she incurred as a result of evacuating.
Crediting favorable evidence if reasonable jurors could, and disregarding contrary evidence unless reasonable jurors could not, the Court concluded that the evidence would enable reasonable and fair-minded people to reach the verdict under review and, therefore, is legally sufficient. The jury’s award of actual damages under the DTPA is supported by legally sufficient evidence. In addition, the jury’s award of additional DTPA damages in the amount of $133,645.38, which is twice the sum of the economic damages and the mental anguish damages, is also supported by legally sufficient evidence. Accordingly, the Court overruled the sufficiency argument presented in issue five. To the extent Lloyds contends the additional DTPA damages were excessive, the record does not support Lloyds’s argument. Rather, the Court concluded that both the amount of economic damages and the amount of the additional DTPA damages assessed were supported by the evidence.

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