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Insurer granted partial summary judgment in Mostyn $1M hail suit

Southeast Texas Record, January 30, 2017

By: David Yates

DALLAS – A Texas state judge recently granted an insurance company partial summary judgment in a hail lawsuit brought by the Mostyn Law Firm in Houston.

Seeking up to $1 million in damages, plaintiffs Jose and Carina Arellano filed suit against Safeco Insurance Company of Indiana and adjuster Cory Mangum on July 9, 2015 in Dallas County District Court.

According to the petition, sometime in October 2013 a hailstorm damaged their residence’s roof, causing significant damage throughout the home.

Several months later, on Feb. 26, 2014, Mangum, who was assigned by Safeco, allegedly conducted a “substandard inspection” of the plaintiffs’ property.

The Arellanos alleged the defendants “set out” to underpay their claim, denying them sufficient payment.

However, Safeco and Mangum moved for summary judgment on Dec. 8, asserting that they timely acknowledged and investigated the plaintiffs’ claim, invoked and participated in the appraisal process, and paid the appraisal award.

In their motion, the defendants state that the plaintiffs “vaguely allege” that a hailstorm damaged their home but cannot identify the precise date and then waited months before reporting the alleged damage.

“Regardless of the precise date in October of 2013 on which the loss occurred, Plaintiffs waited until February 12, 2014 to report their alleged damage to Safeco,” the motion states.

The Arellanos were informed the damages did not exceed their deductible of $1,400.

On Nov. 6, 2014 the plaintiffs called Safeco to request an additional copy of the estimate. Nothing further transpired between the parties until Aug. 5, 2015, when the couple filed the lawsuit.

Following the appraisal process, Safeco sent the plaintiffs’ counsel, Gregory Cox of the Mostyn Law, a check for $11,342.09.

“Defendant Safeco timely paid the Appraisal Award after properly invoking appraisal under the Policy,” the motion states. “Texas law is clear that Plaintiffs’ claims cannot survive once that appraisal has resolved the contract dispute.”

On Jan. 25, the trial court dismissed with prejudice the plaintiffs’ claims for breach of contract, fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, and violations of the Prompt Payment of Claims Act, court records show.

“In all other things, Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is denied,” the order, states.

A scheduling order, submitted Jan. 27, shows the case has been set for trial on the remaining claims on June 19.

The defendants are represented by the Irving law firm Tillman Batchelor.

Case No. DC-15-07730