HOUSTON, Feb. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- In a major consumer protection victory, Mostyn Law has secured a $1.8 million verdict on behalf of a South Texas homeowner whose insurance company knowingly committed malicious fraud in mishandling his hail damage claim.
The Hidalgo County state district court jury's award on Tuesday to John R. Griffith is especially notable because the jury said that his insurer, USAA Texas Lloyd's Co., acted "with malice" against him, a rare and strongly worded finding for a civil insurance case. Gregory F. Cox of Mostyn Law represented Griffith.
Amber Mostyn of Mostyn Law said, "USAA committed fraud, but Texas consumer protection laws got justice for our client. These insurance company abuses have become all too common, placing profits over people."
Cox said, "Homeowners must have the right to stand up to their insurance companies when they are so badly mistreated. The ability to have 12 citizens correct an abuse of power by large companies against average homeowners is a fundamental right that must be protected."
In April of 2014, Mostyn Law filed suit for Griffith of McAllen against USAA and AllCat Claims Service. It alleged they improperly denied and underpaid the property damage claim Griffith filed in 2012 after a massive storm showered his home with baseball-sized hail and caused substantial structural and exterior damage.
After the storm, USAA assigned AllCat to inspect Griffith's property, but AllCat failed to fully examine his home, understated the extent of the damage, and wrongly said his policy wouldn't cover all the repairs. USAA ultimately offered Griffith an "inadequate, unfair settlement" that would have left him "considerably underpaid," according to the suit.
The jury found that that USAA's actions constituted a breach of USAA's duty of good faith and fair dealing to Griffith. It also said USAA's actions and omissions in handling Griffith's claim occur so frequently that they reflect USAA's general business practice for handling similar claims at the expense of its customers.
State District Judge Rose Guerra Reyna oversaw the weeklong trial, after which the jury deliberated about 2 1/2 hours on Tuesday before returning its verdict awarding Griffith $1.8 million.
Jurors said USAA failed to comply with Griffith's homeowner's insurance policy; engaged in deceptive acts or practices that harmed Griffith; failed to produce a prompt, fair and equitable settlement of his claim; and knowingly made false statements.
They also said they found "clear and convincing evidence that the harm to John Griffith resulted from malice by USAA," according to court documents.
Cause No. C-4459-14-D
About Mostyn Law
The Houston-based firm is one of the country's leading civil litigation firms, headed by Steve Mostyn and Amber Anderson Mostyn. Their work has focused on representing clients who have been victims of negligence, bad faith or other wrongdoing by medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and others.
Steve, a graduate of the South Texas College of Law, is a founding member of the Texas Association of Consumer Lawyers and former president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. Amber, a graduate of the University of Texas Law School in Austin, has been an adjunct professor at Texas Wesleyan Law School and at South Texas College of Law.
SOURCE Mostyn Law