Category: Lawsuits Filed

Restaurant Insurance Lawyers

Harris County Restaurant Files Fire Damage Insurance Claim Lawsuit

Raizner Slania LLP has filed a bad faith insurance lawsuit for fire damage against Blackboard Insurance Company (formerly known as Hamilton Insurance Company) and Texas General Insurance on behalf of a local restaurant owner.

Catastrophic Restaurant Fire

On September 9, 2017, a catastrophic fire broke out at the restaurant and caused significant damage to the business equipment, which in turn resulted in an extensive loss in income. Soon after the fire, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim and asked that the cost of repairs be covered pursuant to the policy. At the time of the fire, the property was being used in accordance with the plaintiff’s customary operations and business design, the same way the property was being used when the insurance policy was applied for and sold to the plaintiff.

Texas General and one of its agents sold the policy to the plaintiff. However, Texas General and its agent falsely represented to the plaintiff that damages caused by fire, among other things, would be, and indeed are covered by the insurance policy based on the known facts about the business, including the lack of an internal fire alarm system. The plaintiff trusted and relied upon the experience of Texas General and its agent to procure the appropriate coverage for its specialized business needs, and Texas General acted as the agent of Blackboard in connection with the procurement of coverage. Texas General and its agent led the plaintiff to believe the insurance policy secured would cover their business personal property and business income in the event of standard perils, including a fire loss.

Blackboard conducted an unreasonable and inadequate investigation of the damages to the restaurant and looked to find policy exclusions in order to deny the claim. Blackboard wrongfully denied and delayed the plaintiff’s claim for damages to contents and lost business income. Blackboard has chosen to continue to deny and delay timely payment of the damages. Because of Blackboard’s refusal to the pay the claim, the plaintiff has suffered significant economic loss.

Violations Of The Texas Insurance Code

Our client alleges Blackboard violated the Texas Insurance Code by failing to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of the claim and by failing to promptly provide a reasonable explanation for the denial of a claim. Additionally, Texas General and Blackboard misrepresented the policy under which they provided coverage to the plaintiff.

Restaurant Insurance Lawyers

At Raizner Slania LLP, we have extensive experience handling litigation against insurance companies. We provide aggressive, efficient, and effective representation. If you are facing a dispute over a restaurant insurance claim, contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.

Laredo Hail Damage Claims

Laredo Property Owners Still Recovering From Hail Storm

It’s been nearly a year since golf ball sized hail pelted areas of Laredo, Texas, but business owners are still struggling with the storm’s aftermath. Hail causes significant damage to anything in its path, and with many surplus lines insurers operating in a grey area of the Texas insurance market, policyholders are caught between insurance companies wrongfully denying claims and hail damage they can’t afford to fix themselves.

May 2017 Hail Storm

While hail is not an uncommon occurrence in Texas, the hail storm that swept through Laredo on May 21, 2017, was unique in its duration. The storm produced hail for nearly two hours. A maximum hail size was reported at 2.75 inches, but on average the hail was 1.83 inches in diameter. The storm covered a wide area, affecting approximately 38,562 buildings in Laredo and Zapata, Texas. Weather stations measured the storm’s wind gusts up to 56 miles per hour, meaning buildings were being showered with golf ball sized hail.

Laredo’s Mayor quickly declared the city a disaster area after the storm. In order to declare a city a disaster area, damages must exceed $900,000; but in this case, the damage to the World Trade Bridge in Laredo alone is estimated to be approximately $1 million.

How Hail Damage Claims Are Wrongfully Denied

Hail damage claims are particularly painful for insurance companies, often causing billions of dollars in payouts each year. However, insurance companies are first and foremost a business, which means anytime an area is damaged by a hail storm, insurance companies are quick to minimize claims.

Although hail damage might seem obvious, there are several ways insurance companies might try to release themselves from liability. An insurance company might claim the alleged hail damage isn’t actually hail damage but damage caused by the regular wear and tear caused over time. Insurance companies might also try to blame the damage on inadequate maintenance to the property, faulty construction, and/or manufacturing defects of the damaged components.

What This Means For Policyholders

The bad faith tactics used by many insurance companies to wrongfully deny or underpay claims put an extreme burden on policyholders. Many will be forced to pay out of pocket for repairs their insurance company should have covered. Policyholders need to understand that they have rights. If you have regularly paid your premium, you are entitled to full compensation under your policy.

Laredo Hail Damage Claims

If your business was damaged in the Laredo hail storm last May and you are still struggling with your insurance company, you need to immediately call Raizner Slania LLP. Don’t let your insurance company delay, deny, or underpay your claim. We can help with your Laredo hail damage claims and get you the compensation you are entitled to.

Harris County Insurance Lawyers

Harris County Apartment Complex Owner Files Insurance Lawsuit

Raizner Slania has filed an insurance lawsuit on behalf of a Harris County apartment complex owner against AmRisc LLC, Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, Indian Harbor Insurance Company, QBE Specialty Insurance Company, Steadfast Insurance Company, General Security Indemnity Company of Arizona, United Specialty Insurance Company, Lexington Insurance Company, Princeton Excess and Surplus Lines Insurance Company, and International Insurance Company of Hannover.

January 2017 Windstorm

On January 20, 2017, a windstorm ripped through Harris County. The windstorm caused significant damage to our client’s apartment complex, including damage to building components like light fixtures, windows, drywall, flooring, and the roofing system. Immediately upon discovering the damage, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim and asked that the cost of repairs be covered pursuant to the policy.

The insurance carriers, through AmRisc, assigned adjusters, consultants, and agents to the plaintiff’s file that were inadequate and improperly trained. Specifically, the claim was delegated to AmRisc to assign the claims to Vericlaim as the third party adjusting firm to handle the claims. Vericlaim, in turn, assigned the claim to an internal adjuster. The internal adjuster was assigned as the adjuster with decision-making authority over the plaintiff’s claim under the policy. Vericlaim and the internal adjuster conducted an unreasonable and inadequate investigation of the property and wrongfully denied any windstorm damage.

Despite clear evidence to the contrary, Vericlaim and its internal adjuster claimed the damages were not storm related, and instead were a result of normal wear and tear, deferred maintenance, construction deficiencies, and other excuses. Additionally, they confirmed damages to thousands of shingles and other areas of the property, but instead of providing full indemnity, they understated the damages and admitted only spotty repairs.

The carriers engaged in and ratified this improper claims conduct and ultimately approved a gross underpayment of the contractual damages. This underpayment omitted important facts, physical evidence, and meteorological data supporting the plaintiff’s claim. The Carriers instead unreasonably blamed the loss on causes other than wind to avoid contractual responsibilities and to save themselves in excess of $1,000,000.

The Carriers Acted In Bad Faith

Our client cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, including failure to adopt and implement reasonable standards for prompt investigation of claims, refusal to pay a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation, and misrepresentation of the insurance policy under which it affords property coverage to the plaintiff.

Harris County Insurance Lawyers

If you are an apartment complex owner and your insurance claim was wrongfully denied or grossly underpaid, the Harris County insurance lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP can help. Call us today for a free consultation to review your case.

Church Insurance Claim Attorney

Raizner Slania Files Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuit On Behalf of Houston Church

Raizner Slania LLP has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Houston Church against Scottsdale Insurance Company after its windstorm insurance claim was wrongfully denied under the Texas Insurance Code.

August 2015 Windstorm

On August 11, 2015, a windstorm swept through Houston, causing significant damage to the roof, HVAC, exterior, and interior of the church. Immediately upon discovering the damage caused by the storm, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim with Scottsdale and asked that the cost of the repairs be covered pursuant to the policy.

In response to the windstorm claim, Scottsdale assigned adjusters, consultants, and agents to the plaintiff’s file that were inadequately and improperly trained. Specifically, Scottsdale assigned the claim to an adjuster who would violate standard insurance practices when directed to do so by Scottsdale.

The adjuster failed to perform a thorough investigation of the claim and instead delayed the claim payment. The adjuster did not engage the necessary consultants or qualified experts to appropriately assess the damage to the property.

Scottsdale relied solely on the adjuster and its preferred vendors to determine what amounts, if any, to pay on the claim and did not perform its own investigation. Scottsdale and its adjuster misrepresented the policy, stating certain damages were not covered, when in fact they were. As a result of the incomplete and unreasonable investigation, Scottsdale grossly underpaid the plaintiff’s claim.

Unfortunately, Scottsdale delayed payments for necessary and covered property repairs under the insurance policy. Given the repeated delays of payments, the plaintiff has been subjected to significant economic impact, and continuing economic and physical damages. Because of Scottsdale’s delays, denials, and underpayment, the plaintiff has been unable to make necessary repairs to the church, which resulted in further damages.

Scottsdale Utilized Bad Faith Tactics To Underpay The Claim

Scottsdale violated numerous provisions of the Texas Insurance Code, including failure to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim, failure to adopt and implement reasonable standards for the investigation of a claim, and failure to affirm or deny coverage of a claim to policyholders within a reasonable timeframe. The plaintiff also alleges Scottsdale violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act.

Church Insurance Claim Attorney

Just like other businesses and nonprofits, churches are not immune to the bad faith tactics used by insurance companies to avoid paying out on claims. If your church suffered wind or hail damage and your insurance company delayed, denied, or underpaid your claim, a Houston church insurance claim attorney at Raizner Slania LLP can help. Call us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

Hail Damage Insurance Lawsuits

Dallas County Apartment Owner Files Hail Damage Insurance Lawsuit

Raizner Slania has filed a hail damage insurance lawsuit on behalf of a Dallas County apartment owner against Peleus Insurance Company, Strata Claims Management, LLC, and Engle Martin & Associates, Inc. after its insurance claim was wrongfully denied.

March 2016 Hailstorm

On March 17, 2016, a wind and hailstorm swept through north Texas, causing substantial damage to the roofs, HVAC, exteriors, and interiors of the apartment complex property. Upon discovering the damage, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim with Peleus. In response to the claim, Peleus assigned adjusters, consultants, and agents to the plaintiff’s file that were inadequately and improperly trained.

Specifically, Peleus assigned the claim to both Strata and Engle Martin. In turn, both Strata and Engle Martin assigned the claim to claims representatives. Peleus, Strata, Engle Martin, and their representatives failed to perform a thorough investigation of the claim.

The representatives performed a haphazard inspection of the property and its damages and grossly undervalued what damages they did accept. Additionally, Peleus, Strata, Engle Martin, and their representatives made false representations to the plaintiff, including illegitimately claiming the damage occurred prior to the policy period and improperly ignoring facts confirming the wind and hail storm.

Strata and its representative also misrepresented the extent of damages confirmed at the property, falsely used excuses such as roof deficiencies and improper installation, and made misrepresentations about available weather data, including blatant misuse of predictive modeling supposedly being relied on to deny and delay the claim.

Strata and its representative then wrongfully claimed the roofs did not need to be replaced and instead blamed the clear damages on installation failures and the age of the roof systems. These are deceptive, unfair, and unreasonable claim actions, as Peleus and Strata’s own underwriting data confirms the good and insurable condition of the buildings.

As a result of the haphazard inspections and investigation, Peleus wrongfully denied the plaintiff’s hail damage insurance claim. Peleus failed to perform a thorough investigation of the claim and the plaintiff has been unable to make the necessary repairs, causing additional property damage.

Peleus Wrongfully Denied The Claim

Our client cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, including failure to adopt and implement reasonable standards for prompt investigation of claims, refusal to pay a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation, and misrepresentation of the insurance policy under which it affords property coverage to the plaintiff.

Hail Damage Insurance Lawsuits

If you regularly pay your insurance premiums, you deserve full policy protection. Oftentimes when apartment owners try to receive compensation from a claim, they discover their insurance company is less than honest. If your apartment complex suffered wind or hail damage and the insurance company isn’t being straight with you, contact the hail damage insurance lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP. We’ve helped hundreds of property owners get full compensation under their policies.

Hurricane Harvey Claim

Houston Residents File Upstream Addicks and Barker Reservoir Flood Lawsuit

Raizner Slania has filed a lawsuit on behalf of several Houston residents against the U.S. government after their homes were flooded by the collection of floodwaters in the Addicks and Barker reservoirs in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

When the reservoirs were constructed, they were designed to hold large amounts of rainwater and they have spillways at fixed elevations. The Addicks reservoir has a spillway at 108 feet and the Barker reservoir has a spillway at 104 feet. The reservoirs have design pool capacities of 115 feet for the Addicks reservoir and 106 feet for the Barker reservoir. All land behind the reservoirs under these elevations is potentially inside the reservoirs and at risk for flooding.

Realizing the reservoirs would occasionally need to store massive amounts of floodwater, the United States government began acquiring property inside the reservoirs in the 1940s. However, the government did not purchase all land inside the reservoirs. Instead, the government only purchased land up to 103.2 feet in elevation behind the Addicks reservoir and up to 95 feet behind the Barker reservoir.

The government did not purchase or otherwise obtain any right in land between 103.2 feet and 115 feet in elevation in the Addicks Reservoir or between 95.5 feet and 106 feet in elevation in the Barker Reservoir, even though it was likely floodwaters would need to be stored on private property within the reservoirs at those elevations.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the Addicks and Barker reservoirs captured more than 350,000 acre feet of water to prevent flooding downstream of the reservoirs.

The water level in the Addicks reservoir reached 109.1 feet during Hurricane Harvey. Even though the government only owned property up to, at a maximum, 103.2 feet, they intentionally impounded floodwaters on private properties above 103.2 feet. The water level in the Barker reservoir reached 101.5 feet during Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. The government only owned property up to, at a maximum, 95.5 feet, but allowed floodwaters to be stored on properties above 95.5 feet.

The floodwaters stored in both the Addicks and Barker reservoirs exceeded the boundaries of the property owned by the government. Affected property owners at these elevations did not consent to the use of their property for storing floodwaters. As a result, thousands of properties upstream of the reservoirs were flooded in many feet of water.

In addition to flood damage, property owners are left with an increased risk of future flooding and will be unable to rebuild their properties without incurring significant additional expenses. Property owners who wish to transfer or sell their property will likely struggle to do so, or will be unable to do so without taking a significant loss because of the decreased demand for property in the area and the increased difficulty in obtaining flood insurance in the area.

The government allowing floodwaters to be stored above its own designated property boundaries constitutes a taking of private property by the government for public use. Under the Fifth Amendment, property owners must be fairly compensated for the taking of their property.

Get Help Filing Your Hurricane Harvey Claim

If your property is located upstream of the Addicks or Barker reservoirs and was flooded during and after Hurricane Harvey, you have a right to receive just compensation. The Hurricane Harvey lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP are working with property owners across Houston to help them get them the compensation they are legally entitled to. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your claim.