ICYMI: Storm-chasing Lawyer Indicted for Fraud in Hailstorm Claims
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION—June 12, 2017
Contact: Lucy Nashed
AUSTIN – Kent Livesay, a storm-chasing McAllen attorney who is the third-highest filer of weather-related lawsuits in Texas, has been indicted by a grand jury for fraud related to lawsuits filed from 2014 to 2016 against insurance companies without the homeowners’ knowledge or consent. The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Fraud Unit that uncovered evidence of organized criminal activity, legal misconduct and insurance fraud by Livesay.
“Texans are fed up with storm-chasing lawyers bending – and in some cases – breaking the rules to line their pockets, while families and businesses pay the price through rising insurance costs or lost coverage,” TLR Communications Director Lucy Nashed said. “While a grand jury apparently found a black and white case of fraud by Mr. Livesay, much of the abuse occurring around weather-related claims falls into a gray area that isn’t easily prosecuted, making the enactment of House Bill 1774 critical to protecting Texans from storm-chasing lawyers and their mass lawsuit mills. We are grateful for TDI’s diligent work to bring down this bad actor, and hope that their continued vigilance – along with the enactment of HB 1774 in September – will put a stop to this lawsuit abuse in Texas.”
Since 2012, a group of storm-chasing lawyers has filed more than 36,000 lawsuits across the state. In a report to the Legislature, TDI found a 1,400 percent increase in litigation since 2012, which has resulted in 12 companies raising rates for homeowners’ insurance and seven companies reducing, limiting or stopping coverage in Texas altogether.
Last year, the State Bar of Texas suspended Livesay’s law license for illegal case running in weather-related lawsuits. The Commission for Lawyer Discipline charged Livesay with violating the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct by demanding damages from an insurance company on behalf of a client he did not represent.
HB 1774 by Rep. Greg Bonnen and sponsored by Sen. Kelly Hancock implements common-sense accountability measures to stop storm-chasing lawyers from exploiting Texas property owners after natural disasters. The bill protects Texans from all of the bad actors by requiring realistic demands for damages and notice of a lawsuit before it is filed, as well as stopping unnecessary lawsuits against individuals. It also preserves the strongest consumer protections in the nation for policyholders – including stiff penalties and damages for insurers that don’t pay claims on time and in full, as well as a clear path to the courthouse for policyholders. HB 1774 will take effect September 1.
For more information about this indictment, please visit http://www.tdi.texas.gov/news/2017/tdi06092017.html.
To learn more about weather-related lawsuit abuse, please visit www.tortreform.com/hail.