By: David Yates
BEAUMONT – One of the last remaining Hurricane Rita lawsuits was recently tried in Jefferson County, with the trial ending with a much larger payday for Mostyn Law than the firm’s clients.
How much more?
According to the charge of the court, jurors awarded Mostyn Law $216,000 in attorney’s fees, while their clients, David and Sue James, received a total of $51,000 in damages.
The case of David and Sue James v. TWIA went to trial on Feb. 21 and ended March 3.
According to the Jameses’ first amended petition, the couple had an insurance policy with TWIA. On Sept. 24, 2005, Rita struck, causing severe damage to businesses and homes throughout the Golden Triangle.
They submitted a claim to TWIA for roof, water, wind and structural damage to their property.
The couple argued the defendants “set out to deny” and “underpay” the claim, denying them sufficient payment to repair their property.
According to the charge of the court, jurors found TWIA failed to comply with its insurance policy.
However, jurors also found that David and Sue James failed to keep and provide TWIA pertinent records and documents and an accurate record of repair expenses.
Their failure to do so caused TWIA to be prejudice in its investigation, jurors concluded.
Jurors awarded the couple $33,000 for their dwelling, $8,000 in living expenses and $10,000 for their personal property, according to the charge of the court.
Mostyn Law was awarded $131,000 for representation in the trial court, $50,000 if appealed, and a total of $35,000 for all the work that will be put in if the case goes before the Texas Supreme Court.
On March 8, Mostyn Law sent out a press release stating that under current state law, more than $100,000 in statutory penalties and interest will be added to the jury award because of unlawful delays by the insurance company.
Mostyn Law attorneys Gregory Cox, Justin Burrow and Mark Sparks represented the couple at trial.
"The James family is pleased with the result after a long and arduous wait. They're glad to have closure and finally put this behind them," Cox said in the release.
"TWIA knowingly violated the Texas Insurance Code. That's why penalties and interest are appropriate here. Currently, Texas law protects homeowners from insurance companies trying to 'starve you out.'"
Judge Justin Sanderson, 60th District Court, presided over the trial.
Cause No. B-183464