I’m going do to something strange for Slabbed and link the hometown bi weekly paper, the Seacoast Echo, which the locals here affectionately know as the Poo-Poo Periodical. While you can’t trust their reporting on the City of Waveland as it is hidden agenda driven IMHO you can trust the reporting from Circuit Court in Bay St Louis where Judge Roger Clark quickly dispatched what appears to be a borderline frivolous lawsuit against local insurance agent David Treutel. Former Sun Herald reporter JR Welsh has the skinny for the PPP:
The lawsuit was originally filed in Chancery Court in December 2005, and was later moved to Circuit Court. Trial began Tuesday and concluded late Thursday morning when Judge Roger Clark issued a directed verdict in favor of Treutel.
A jury of five men and seven women was impaneled, but jurors didn’t spend much time in the courtroom listening to testimony from Jolynne Trapani and Treutel. Jurors were sent to the jury room for much of the trial, while attorneys made motions and argued points of law and insurance.
The Trapanis were represented by Gerald Maples, of Pascagoula. Paul Delcambre, of Balch & Bingham, defended Treutel.
Thursday, Delcambre asked Clark to issue a directed verdict in Treutel’s favor and dismiss the issue because the Trapanis had failed to prove their case. The judge agreed.
“The court finds that the motion for directed verdict be sustained,” Clark said. He then called jurors back into the courtroom and told them, “as a matter of law, there is nothing for you to consider or decide in this case.” The jury was then dismissed.
“I’m satisfied with the verdict,” Treutel said following the ruling. “This is the only time in 27 years that I’ve ever had a lawsuit.”
Here at Slabbed we’re consumer bar positive or in other words we like trial lawyers since those folks give the average Joe access to the justice system. That said we’ve also blown raspberries at the trial bar when deserved and I think it is clear that Trapani lawyer Gerald Maples was in way over his head, both with his clients and his grasp of salient law in play here as we continue:
The Trapani case had already suffered serious blows earlier in the trial by two bench rulings from the judge.
First, Clark ruled that acceptable records were not submitted to establish profits or losses for the business. He granted a defense motion that records presented by the Trapanis not be allowed as evidence for jury consideration.
Next, Delcambre objected to allowing testimony from a plaintiff’s expert witness on whether or not Treutel acted properly when he ordered coverage for the Trapanis. Clark ruled that the expert witness, who had no insurance licenses or certifications, was not qualified to give opinions on the procurement of property and casualty insurance.
The decision process that resulted in Team Trapani pushing this case into a court room was dubious at best and I’m told Team Trapani is having a hard time accepting this crushing loss. The 2 lessons I hope everyone takes from this is that good business records have mucho value, especially after disaster strikes and that a business owner should be very proactive in assessing the risks that face their businesses.
One thing we don’t lack here at Slabbed is readers with credentials in the insurance business and risk management. I’m curious to hear what our readers think about this case.