Month: April 2015

Raizner Slania Sues Underwriters at Lloyds of London for Violations of the Texas Insurance Code and Related Laws Following Major Water Loss to a Supermarket

Raizner Slania LLP has initiated suit against Certain Underwriters at Lloyds, London (“Underwriters”) for mishandling Plaintiff’s insurance claim following extensive water damage at a Houston area supermarket.

The owners of the food market were sold a commercial insurance policy by Underwriters which provided coverage for damages to business property and lost business income caused by “accidental water discharge.”  On May 25, 2014, there was a sudden discharge of water from the facility’s subsurface fire sprinkler system which caused substantial damages including loss of nearly 1 million dollars in inventory. Immediately, Plaintiff filed an insurance claim under the policy believing the claim would be handled pursuant to policy terms and benefits.

Underwriters responded by assigning an improperly trained adjuster to the case. Lloyds and its adjusters violated the Texas Insurance Code by failing to conduct an adequate investigation of damages caused by the water and by refusing to acknowledge any damages to inventory. Underwriters falsely misrepresented the terms of its policy in a denial letter by stating that “Food Spoilage” was not covered. Given that the business is a supermarket, the basis for the insurer’s denial was unfounded..

After delaying the claims process, on September 19, 2014, Underwriters declined to continue evaluating the claim and refused to issue any payments under the Policy. The insurance company violated its responsibilities under Texas law by choosing to delay and deny timely payment even after liability was clear. The repeated delays of payment have caused our client significant economic impact, worry, distress, and continuing economic and physical damage.

If you believe you’ve experienced improper delay or denials of a Texas commercial property insurance claim, contact Raizner Slania LLP today for a free consultation.

RAIZNER SLANIA TO ACCEPT XARELTO CLAIMS

The lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP are now accepting clients who have suffered an injury as a result of taking the blood thinner Xarelto. Our attorneys have extensive experience in similar pharmaceutical litigation, and previously represented over a 100 clients whose families suffered emotionally, physically and financially as a result of taking Paradaxa. Litigation surrounding Pradaxa settled last year for $650 million.

Xarelto is a new drug approved in 2011 for prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. It is a part of new class of drugs called oral anti-coagulants. Xarelto claims to provide an improvement upon the standard therapy for atrial fibrillation, which for the last 50 years has been a drug called Warfarin, also known as Coumadin. Bayer and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Xarelto, claim that the drug is as effective as Warfarin, but these claims, and the studies supporting them, appear to have been overstated. In reality, Bayer and Janssen rushed Xarelto to market before an antidote had been developed. The result – uncontrolled bleeding events without the possibility of reversal.

Part of the problem with Xarelto is that patients and their physicians have been sold the suggestion that they need not undergo the level of blood testing required with other therapies. For example, Warfarin patients are advised to undergo blood tests regularly in an effort to reduce the risk of a major bleeding event. Unlike Warfarin, the drug companies responsible for putting Xarelto on the market, have claimed in their advertisements and other promotional materials that Xarelto patients don’t need to have their blood tested.

Sadly, these claims appear to be false, and they have subjected thousands of patients worldwide to uncontrolled gastrointestinal bleeding, cerebral hemorrhage, stroke and other injuries. Research has shown that if Xarelto patients were to simply have their blood tested and then have their dose adjusted based on the results, their risk of a major bleed could be reduced by as much as 20 to 40 percent. Unfortunately, this information has not been shared with doctors or patients and the FDA has already received over a hundred reports of reactions and death related incidents.

If you or a loved one have experience a serious or fatal bleeding event while on Xarelto, contact the experienced Drug Litigation Attorneys at Raizner Slania immediately to discuss and preserve your legal rights.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS REPORTS ON PROTECTIVE ORDERS

Protective orders have become a real challenge and obstacle to the efficient representation of clients.  We often see opposing parties – typically large insurance companies – seek to keep documents secret during the course of discovery. The stated excuse is often that the documents are highly confidential trade secrets that would work a competitive disadvantage were they to fall into a competitors hands, despite the obvious fact that the litigants seeking disclosure of the information aren’t in any way in competition with the parties seeking to hide the documents and information.

The real reasons for keeping documents secret are almost always something quite different.  The insurer may find the document damaging to its litigation position or even its reputation, and they want to keep the documents away from the public eye.  Similarly, the insurer may simply want to “divide and conquer,” as they know that insurance litigation sometimes “takes a village” and it’s important for consumers and their attorneys to be able to collaborate in evaluating bad insurance practices.   Whatever the reason, the insurance industry, as well as other industries, have pushed as hard as they can to shield important information from the public eye.  And for the most part, they are getting away with it.

Fortunately for consumers, Dallas Morning News Reporter, Sue Ambrose, has done a great job of shining a light on this practice.  In her article this weekend, “Could Texas’ high court curb trade-secret sharing in safety lawsuits?” Ambrose delved into the usage of protective orders in litigation and focused on a General Motors case that was pending before the Texas Supreme Court.  That case settled, but the issue remains an important question for Texas policyholders and consumers.  Firm Partner Jeff Raizner was quoted in the article, and Raizner Slania frequently confronts and opposes efforts to impose restrictive protective orders on its clients.

Many years ago, the Texas Supreme Court in the Garcia v. Peeples decision forbade protective orders that do not allow for reasonable provisions that permit the sharing of documents among similarly situated parties.  Like General Motors, product manufacturers and the insurance industry have worked hard to dial back the law and challenge the rights of policyholders and consumers to fairly evaluate and prosecute their claims. Ambrose’s recent article highlights the challenges that Texas policyholders and consumers face in addressing protective order issues in the courts.

Announcing Raizner Slania LLP: the Premier Commercial Property Attorneys

Jeff Raizner and Andrew Slania of Doyle Raizner LLP are pleased to announce the formation of Raizner Slania LLP, effective Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Along with a team of attorneys and staff, the two Texas Super Lawyers are continuing their nationwide legal practice at the new firm, and they will remain focused on commercial property insurance cases and select mass tort projects. The firm’s mission is to achieve the best possible results in the shortest amount of time.

The Raizner Slania LLP legal team will include Jeff Raizner, Andrew Slania, and Amy Hargis who collectively possess nearly 40 years of experience. With a nationwide practice based in Texas, Raizner Slania LLP attorneys are licensed in multiple states and have extensive backgrounds in high stakes litigation and managing large dockets of coordinated cases. “The spinoff is really a great opportunity for our lawyers to focus on what they do best,” said Raizner, “For the Raizner Slania team, that means commercial property insurance, a sector where we have become one of the preeminent litigation firms nationwide for cases arising out of natural disasters and other insured losses. Our firm will also continue to handle select mass tort projects that meet our criteria for having the potential to deliver strong results for our clients.”

A founding partner of Doyle Raizner LLP, Jeff Raizner is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, with a long record of delivering results for clients. Raizner has tried to verdict a number of cases involving substantial damages. Perhaps even more important in today’s legal environment, Raizner has been entrusted with leadership roles on steering committees designed to efficiently and professionally manage coordinated dockets of cases in consolidated actions and multi-district litigation, often in matters involving first party insurance claims. Raizner’s career began at a top rated international law firm, which he left in 2003 to form Doyle Raizner LLP. Under Raizner’s guidance, Doyle Raizner LLP grew to become one of the premier contingent fee practices in Texas, with a national presence in both commercial property insurance matters and mass tort litigation against major insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and other global corporations.

Having been instrumental in Doyle Raizner LLP’s success in the commercial property insurance sector, Andrew Slania will become a named partner at the new firm. With substantial trial experience as both a veteran of a large international law firm and former prosecutor, Slania currently handles a nationwide docket of cases involving insurance losses to office buildings, retail centers, hotels, apartment complexes, churches, and other commercial properties. Slania has been elected as a Texas Super Lawyer with a number of successful resolutions of substantial litigation matters against the insurance industry. Embodying the firm’s philosophy of achieving the best possible results in the shortest amount of time, Slania has developed a strong national reputation and track record of meticulously investigating an opponent’s business conduct and practices in order to achieve full and fair settlement values.

Raizner Slania LLP will remain in its current location, which is a freestanding and easily accessible contemporary office building in the heart of Houston’s vibrant Montrose area. Consistent with past practice, Raizner Slania LLP will continue to be one of the most technologically advanced law firms in Texas, with state of the art case management and reporting systems designed to best serve the firm’s many clients. “Clients and counsel alike should expect to see a firm that is efficient, driven, and focused,” said Raizner about the new firm’s culture. The firm-wide commitment to technology and efficiency will provide clients with affordable, intuitive, and powerful legal services.

“Over the past several years, we’ve seen enormous change in the legal environment and today’s modern law firm needs to apply an efficient, business-based strategy for handling both client and firm resources,” said Raizner. “Our clients approach litigated matters as an investment in their future livelihood and success, and our job is to ensure we meet these expectations by maintaining a practical, analytical, and results driven focus.” The firm possesses the intellectual and financial resources necessary to succeed in today’s complex litigation environment, and its legal team holds a national reputation for excellence. “We are all very excited about the evolution of our firm, and with this change we look forward to better serving the goals and meeting the expectations of our clients and referral base,” said Raizner.

Lloyds Underwriters Sued In Federal Court for Breaching Insurance Policy Conditions after Hail Damaged Multiple Apartment Complexes

Our lawyers have filed a commercial property insurance lawsuit against Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London (“Lloyds”), and their adjustment team, for multiple breaches of its insurance contract with the plaintiffs, along with violations of the Texas Insurance Code.

Our clients, two corporations, acquired insurance coverage from Lloyds for three separate apartment complexes, containing 74 distinct housing units, and they paid their premiums faithfully under the insurance contract.

On May 28, 2013, an unbelievable 2-4 feet of hail battered Amarillo, leaving paths of torn shingles and damaging exterior bricks, windows, decks, and HVAC units throughout the properties. The storm of ice opened holes in the apartment buildings, causing water to ruin insulation, plywood, ceiling tiles, and more.

Although our client, like thousands of Amarillo policyholders, honored their end of the insurance contract, Lloyds unfortunately failed to do so. An adjuster with insufficient training was assigned and concluded damage to one complex did not exceed its $4,500.00 deductible, an impossibility due to the storms record-breaking magnitude. Yet an investigation by independent experts documents over $2 million in damages across all three complexes.

Rather than giving proper consideration to the independent expert estimates, the defendants placed their interests of cutting costs above of our clients’ needs, paying only 5% of total damages. This type of conduct is a violation of the duty of good faith and fair dealing insurance companies must maintain with their customers. This duty required Lloyds to seek information that was fair and favorable to our clients and to take all reasonable steps to evaluate and settle the claims. The Texas Insurance Code requires as much, and further mandates prompt payment of claims. Due to Lloyds’ unreasonable denials, proper benefits are still being withheld, greatly exceeding the statutory prompt payment laws in Texas.

The Deceptive Trade Practices Act provides additional protection to consumers who are victims of deceptive, improper, and illegal practices. Lloyds violated his law and engaged in fraud by providing misleading representations about the insurance policy the damages.

Many people feel they must accept an insurance company’s denials, but this is never the case. An insurance company’s delays and denials, when improper, may be challenged by a policyholder in a court of law.

Our clients have damages that greatly hinder their ability to successfully continue business operations. Each complex has suffered reductions in building value, loss of income, decreased customer good will, and physical property damage that continues to get worse due to non-repair.

The commercial property lawyers of Raizner Slania LLP are proud to represent this Amarillo multi-family property owner. Our insurance team enjoys a reputation for case-building strategies that hold some of the largest, most powerful insurers accountable for improper claim processing. If you believe your claim of loss was mishandled by an insurance carrier or their adjustment team, contact Raizner Slania today.

Historic Flooding in Phoenix Threatens Buildings

Last week, the city of Phoenix and other locations in Arizona and California met with the remnants of Hurricane Norbert. The result in Phoenix has been compared by Mayor Alex Finter as a “mini-Katrina”. Flash flooding is very common in the desert when just a little rain falls, but the amount of rain that fell has shattered the all-time record since 1895.

The City of Phoenix has declared a state of emergency after the incident. Wind speeds of up to 40 mph combined with the force of the flooding caused extensive damage to structures and roads. I-10 is washed out in places due to mud and rock slides, snarling commercial trucking and halting business activity and schooling. Thousands are without power due to washed out power lines. At least one supermarket roof has collapsed and there are many reports of water entering structures. Two women are known to have died due to the flooding.

When historic storms like this happen, it can be a real nightmare to discover that your building insurance doesn’t cover flood damage. You may think that the desert is the last place to expect a flood, but actually flash flooding is very common in these regions. The dry desert soil becomes almost like stone from all the heat. When rain falls, the ground is quickly saturated and causes flooding. Even as little as an inch of rain in a short period can cause a flood to occur, let alone the 3 to 5 inches of rain that happened with this storm.

If you’re worried about whether your commercial policy can cover this amount of damage, or if you’re afraid that the insurance company will reject your claim, we can help. Our independent adjusters will go to your site and assess the damage so you can go to the insurance company with confidence. If they don’t accept the results, Raizner Slania LLP can and will defend your rights in court. Call today for a free consultation.