“got it” – the MSSC decision in Lisanby v USAA

Not easy but I finally “got it” – Mississippi Supreme Court decision in USAA v Lisanby – and as I read over the decision, I began to “get it”.

Considering that I’m having one of those “running late and short on time” mornings, I’ll just toss out the decision and a “clue” about  USAA’s “bad faith”: The named defendants in the original Rigsby qui tam Complaint were State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide and (drumroll)…USAA.

Like Ashton, I’d like to see more documents from the docket but they’re not easy to find, particularly when “running late and short on time”.   I’ll continue to look when my day settles down – but, in the meantime, anyone who has information to share can send email with documents attached to Sop. ([email protected])

The jury awarded the plaintiffs more than $900,000 in compensatory damages, but the trial judge directed a verdict in favor of the defendant on the issue of punitive damages. USAA appealed and the Lisanbys cross appealed. Because the defendant demonstrated an arguable basis for its denial of claims, the trial judge erred in submitting the emotional damages claim to the jury and in awarding attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses to the plaintiffs. Accordingly, the plaintiffs’ cross-appeal regarding punitive damages and attorneys’ fees necessarily must be denied…

After a ten-day trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict awarding the Lisanbys a total of $909,641 in compensatory damages. The special verdict apportioned the damages as follows: $478,141 in additional wind damage to the house; $50,500 for wind damage to the garage; $197,000 in additional wind damage to the contents of all three buildings; $12,000 in additional living expenses; nothing in lost rent for the cottage; and $86,000 per plaintiff for emotional distress. The trial judge declined to submit the issue of punitive damages to the jury, but awarded the plaintiffs an additional $302,920.44 in attorneys’ fees and $211,069.47 in litigation expenses…

USAA raises numerous points of error on appeal, claiming: (1) the physical facts and photographic evidence demonstrate as a matter of law that storm surge caused the majority of the damages, warranting a directed verdict in USAA’s favor, or, in the alternative, requiring a new trial; (2) the evidence does not support an award for emotional distress; (3) the trial court erred in granting the Lisanbys’ motion for attorneys’ fees and expenses; (4) the trial court erred in denying USAA’s motions for a change of venue; (5) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of replacement costs; (6) the trial judge erred in denying USAA’s motions for mistrial; or, (7) in the alternative, cumulative errors warrant reversal.

The Lisanbys cross-appeal, arguing that the trial court erred by failing to allow the jury to consider punitive damages and in capping attorneys’ fees at one-third of the verdict…

Click on the linked Decision,  give it a read and put your thoughts in comments.

2 thoughts on ““got it” – the MSSC decision in Lisanby v USAA”

  1. While not the best opinion ever for policyholders, I’m always happy to see the current MSSC actually affirm any part of a jury verdict.

  2. This verdict is an outrage in that it relies on other cases the court recently decided where they essentially re-wrote the standard of conduct for insurers in 1st party claims handling.

    The plaintiff

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