Hot Spot – McMurphy v State Farm

When Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the 29th of August, 2005, construction was almost mcintosh - mcmurpheycomplete on the new home of Lori and Ambrose McMurphy insured by State Farm.  The$1.3 million dollar three-story home and $650,000 in contents were lost to the storm and the property later lost to forclosure.

Their story is an all too familiar story of loss incurred from State Farm’s claim handling of property loss from the story – Katrina’s double whammy.

Although repeated time and again from one end of the coast to the other, in one area of Biloxi Katrina’s double whammy hit neighbor after neighbor – McIntosh, Mills, Bossier, McMurphy and untold others.

mcintosh - bossier

McMurphy’s story, like many others, points to a State Farm agent who sold them an all-risk policy with the assurance of complete coverage of loss in event of a hurricane – an agent, in their case, released from liability on a technicality according to Judge Ozerden’s Order.

…For misrepresentation claims, this Court has found that “[t]he appropriate inquiry for determining the commencement of the limitations period centers on whether the alleged tortious conduct occurs at the formation of the insurance agreement or at a later time.” Poole v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., No. 1:06cv712, 2007 WL 4287534, at * 4 (S.D. Miss. 2007) (citing Agnew v. Washington Mutual Finance Group, 244 F. Supp. 2d 672, 676 (N.D. Miss. 2003))…

To the extent that Plaintiffs base their claims against Chadick upon representations which allegedly occurred during the procurement of the subject insurance policy, these are barred by the applicable statute of limitations… The policy was last renewed before the storm on April 14, 2005, and Plaintiffs’ Complaint was not filed until August 26, 2008…

Based upon the foregoing, Plaintiffs’ claims against Chadick are not tolled, and the statute of limitations began to run no later than April 14, 2005, when the policy was last renewed before Hurricane Katrina. See Renewal Certificate, attached as Ex. “A” to Pls.’ Compl. Because Plaintiffs’ Complaint was not filed until August 2008, Plaintiffs’ claims against Chadick are time-barred.

Plaintiffs have not pointed to any authority supporting recovery under a civil aiding and abetting claim under Mississippi law. However, this Court has previously predicted that a civil aiding and abetting fraud theory is viable under Mississippi law… Nevertheless…Plaintiffs have not provided sufficient support for any allegation that Chadick performed any role in the investigation of their claim or was otherwise involved in the decision to deny benefits.

The case is now slowly moving forward but a Mr. Roger’s neighborhood this is not.