Supreme Court Rejects Insurance Company’s Excuse

After 3-and-a-half years, LaTosha Lewis is finally getting her due.  LaTosha purchased a home in Beaumont, Texas, when she was 22 years old, fulfilling a lifelong dream to own a home with a fenced in backyard.  She added two kids to her family in that home.  It was her most valuable material possession and the center of her family’s life.  In Hurricane Rita, it was damaged.  She received a few thousand dollars from National Lloyds and made repairs.  In Humberto, her power service was ripped from the home.  She was paid nothing.  Then Ike happened.

Her home had never leaked water.  Even after Rita, National Lloyds and she both admitted there was no water leaks – just minor roof damage which she repaired.  When Ike hit, her roof was badly damaged by a limb from a tree which punched a hole through the decking.  Water soaked her son’s room.  She filed a claim.  National Lloyds sent an adjuster from Oklahoma who identified “new” damage after comparing the prior photos.  He recommended payment of a little more than $7,000.  The adjuster sent his report to the desk of Nathan Rendo – a newly hired “examiner” with a temporary license.  In 15 words, he gutted the estimate and report and denied the claim because “she was paid to replace the roof after Rita and did not.”  That is not what happened and that was not what the policy required.

The Case Heads to Court

National Lloyds never excluded her roof or told her that her repairs were insufficient.  Yet, when she needed them, they were not there for here.  Through the course of the trial it was discovered that she was never obligated to “replace” her roof as long as she repaired it and prevented further damage.  She testified that with the little bit of money they gave her in Rita, she could not afford to replace the roof.

The jury heard evidence in this case for 23 days.  National Lloyds put a full-court press on.  But attorneys for Latosha held firm.  Clint Brasher, lead counsel said,

“This was a case with a lot of eyes on it.  It was a complicated case because the prior storms and many people were wondering what a jury would think of the case.  That is why there were so many witnesses, so many experts.”  Costs to try the case for LaTosha was over $100,000 in expenses (not counting attorney time).  Brasher said:  ‘We believed in the case and believed Latosha was treated unfairly.  While it was a costly case for us, we do what we must, no matter the cost, to prosecute the case for our clients.”

Justice After Supreme Court Upholds Verdict

In the largest Ike verdict for a homeowner, the jury returned a verdict on every cause of action that Plaintiff submitted, including punitive damages.  National Lloyds did not win a single issue with the jury, but, rather than pay the judgment, appealed.  On appeal, National Lloyds lost again but still refused to pay the judgment.  The next step was the Texas Supreme Court.  Asking the Supreme Court to consider the case, mountains of legal research and briefing was required.  The Supreme Court last summer declined to accept the case, upholding the verdict.  But National Lloyds still did not pay.  They asked the Court to reconsider its decision.  On October 21, 2016, the Court did just that finally ending the delays.  Now, LaTosha can finally get paid for her damage.

National Lloyds was aware that during trial, Latosha was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for breast cancer.  Unmoved by LaTosha’s circumstance, and uninterested in settlement negotiations at any time during the appeal, National Lloyds spent tens of thousands appealing a verdict where it did not win a single issue.  Mr. Brasher said, “Finally some justice for a great person, a mother, and cancer survivor I am proud to represent.”

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