BREAKING: Corban v USAA settles

Anita Lee has all the scoop as the wind water debate rages in the commentary to her story. I suspect, given the related Mississippi Supreme Court decision, USAA paid up big. (Our exhaustive coverage of Corban can be found by clicking here.) Sadly for the public, we will not get to see Mr Haney lose another big case for USAA like Lisanby. Congratulations to the Corbans and their legal team of Judy Guice, Buddy Gunn, Flip Phillips and Chris Van Cleave. Rather than quote the news story lets visit with Anita’s blog for her take on the news:

The landmark Katrina case, Corban vs. USAA, has settled on the usual “undisclosed terms.”

The case established that wind damage is covered even if water contributes to the loss, a fact insurance companies tried to fight after Hurricane Katrina.

The Mississippi Supreme Court decision came in October 2009, far too late to help countless policyholders who settled under an erroneous federal ruling that came down much earlier.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could have certified the question to Mississippi’s Supreme Court, which has say over state-governed insurance contracts, but chose not to.

The federal legal system, in fact, has let down policyholders in more ways than one. Magistrate Judge Robert Walker in particular Continue reading “BREAKING: Corban v USAA settles”

Aye, Aye Admiral – Judge Bridges awards additional $500K in Lisanby v USAA

Short and sweet as, like Sop, I’m pressed for time this morning – but not so short that I can’t post what has been all too rare – good news from a court to the Plaintiff in a Katrina insurance case.

A couple awarded more than $900,000 last year in Jackson County’s first Hurricane Katrina insurance trial was granted $500,000 this month to compensate for legal costs and fees associated with the case, according to court documents.

At the final judgment hearing, special Judge Billy Bridges decided that Adm. James and Gladys Kemp Lisanby should receive an additional $302,920.44 for lawyers’ fees and $211,069.41 in litigation expenses.

That brought to about $1.42 million their total award from their insurance company, United States Automobile Association.

For readers interested in background information, Slabbed has a number of posts on the case as this site search indicates.  Now, for the rest of the story: Continue reading “Aye, Aye Admiral – Judge Bridges awards additional $500K in Lisanby v USAA”

Speaking of Admiral Lisanby….

I ran across Bob Mead’s blog which has an interesting story about a meeting attended by the Admiral from the old days at Ingalls. Naturally I googled the USS Tarawa and found out that back in the old days I was a kid. Bi-Centennial was a wonderful year to be a kid in Waveland.

Me thinks Greg Copeland had to have been drinking too much of his own koolaid when he took on the Admiral in Circuit Court last year. Just saying…


Judge Bridges: the negligence was not "gross"

The Sun Herald is reporting on Judge Bridges’s opinion in Lisanby v. USAA

Bridges’ decision came as a blow last week to attorneys for Adm. James Lisanby and his wife, Gladys, who won a judgment in court Friday against their insurer USAA for denying all but $46,000 of the Lisanbys’ claim that wind destroyed at least a third of their home. USAA said it was the storm’s surge, which is not covered under their homeowner policies.

Among the nearly $910,000 the jury awarded the Lisanbys was $86,000 each for mental distress and anxiety, which some thought should have opened the door for punitive damages.

In the opinion, Bridges found that USAA had an arguable basis for denying the claim, which is one of the tests, he listed. Continue reading “Judge Bridges: the negligence was not "gross"”

Judge Bridges, it seems some process is due here

As has been reported by Anita Lee and here at slabbed, Judge Bridges decided upon himself not to allow the jury to award punitive damages in Lisanby v. USAA and dismissed the jury. But there is a fundamental law of the land called due process.

A fundamental, constitutional guarantee that all legal proceedings will be fair and that one will be given notice of the proceedings and an opportunity to be heard before the government acts to take away one’s life, liberty, or property. Also, a constitutional guarantee that a law shall not be unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious.

Procedural due process also protects individuals from government actions in the civil as opposed to criminal sphere. These protections have been extended to include not only land and personal property, but also entitlements including government-provided benefits, licenses, and positions. Thus, for example, the Court has ruled that the federal government must hold hearings before terminating welfare benefits (Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254, 90 S. Ct. 1011, 25 L. Ed. 2d 287 [1970]). Court decisions regarding procedural due process have exerted a great deal of influence over government procedures in prisons, schools, Social Security, civil suits, and public employment.[Emphasis added]

In BMW of North America v. Gore, ___U.S.___ , 116 S. Ct. 1589, 134 L. Ed. 2d 809 (1996) the U.S. Supreme Court identified the “degree of reprehensibility of defendant’s conduct” as the most important indication of reasonableness in measuring a punitive damage award under the Due Process Clause. The Court applied the most commonly used indicator of excessiveness, the ratio between the plaintiff’s compensatory damages and the amount of the punitive damages.

The purposes of punitive damages are to punish the defendant for outrageous misconduct and to deter the defendant and others from similar misbehavior in the future. The nature of the wrongdoing that justifies punitive damages is variable and imprecise. The usual terms that characterize conduct justifying these damages include bad faith, fraud, malice, oppression, outrageous, violent, wanton, wicked, and reckless. These aggravating circumstances typically refer to situations where the defendant acted intentionally, maliciously, or with utter disregard for the rights and interests of the plaintiff. Continue reading “Judge Bridges, it seems some process is due here”

Admiral Lisanby takes the stand – “I trusted them completely”

Adm. James W. Lisanby had been doing business with USAA for 55 years, on all his homeowner and automobile insurance coverage.

“I trusted them completely,” he told a Jackson County jury Thursday morning. But as his testimony unfolded, he showed how he came to believe the company abandoned him…

Lisanby estimates it would take $1.6 million to replace the 6,000-square-foot historic home with eight fireplaces, 10-foot wide halls on both floors and heart-pine flooring. They also lost a guest house and garage-greenhouse… Continue reading “Admiral Lisanby takes the stand – “I trusted them completely””

Wind sucked the walls out of Lisanby’s house!

A civil engineer said Katrina’s wind sucked exterior walls from a home and caused other significant damage USAA insurance said was caused by water and refused to cover.

He used photos taken by USAA to describe to a Circuit Court jury the wind’s damaging effects on the two-story home of Adm. James W. and Gladys Kemp Lisanby, policyholders suing the company.

“If I have an engineering student in my class and he does not see this is wind damage, I will flunk him,” said Ralph Sinno, a civil engineer and professor at Mississippi State University.

Sinno, who speaks with a Lebanese accent, told the jury almost as soon as he took the witness stand: “I was able to arrive at a very convincing conclusion. The Lisanby home was damaged by the wind loading to the house. If there was water in the house due to storm surge, this water was a Johnny-come-lately.”

Sinno also said the roof was subjected to uplift from the wind and the interior of the house to a “tunneling effect.”

Anita Lee provided this update on testimony in Lisanby v USAA in today’s Sun Herald. USAA holds that water destroyed the first floor of the house and on that basis the Linsanby’s claim was properly handled and paid. Continue reading “Wind sucked the walls out of Lisanby’s house!”

We sometimes give The Farm hell. Here is an attaboy courtesy of USAA.

Anita Lee filed this report on Lisanby v USAA. As I like to observe, the ironies are delicious. State Farm customer Mike Church is also a satisfied wind customer. After following Aiken v USAA (Judge Senter’s courtroom) early this year I can’t help but think that if this is the best the Admiral has in terms of evidence, he may very well be disappointed in the juries findings. Here is the Anita Lee report:

Satisfied State Farm customer Mike Church testified this afternoon for a Pascagoula couple who is suing their insurance company, USAA, over uncovered Katrina damage. 

Church, his wife and youngest son were in their home on Big Lake, which feeds into Biloxi’s Back Bay, when Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005. He testified about all the damage the wind did to the home before 3 to 4 feet of water surged in.

Structural damage, he said, was confined to the first floor of the two-story house. The wind knocked out windows, French doors and the plywood covering them on the home’s south side. Plywood and debris blew in. Continue reading “We sometimes give The Farm hell. Here is an attaboy courtesy of USAA.”

Anita Lee files update on Lisanby v USAA (Updated)

According to Anita Lee’s brief update in the Sun Herald, opening arguments began this afternoon in Linsanby v USAA, the first Katrina case to go to trial in Jackson County, Mississippi.

An attorney for USAA policyholders James W. and Gladys Lisanby said the insurance company “abandoned” them by refusing to cover all the wind damage to their waterfront home.

An attorney for USAA told the jury that evidence including video footage shot during the storm would clearly show that water destroyed the first floor of the Lisanby’s home and USAA covered $45,000 in wind damage to the second floor.

After opening statements, court resumed with testimony from a hurricane hunter, a witness for the Lisanbys.

We’ll update this post as additional information becomes available – keep checking.

Update Anita Lee filed this story for the print edition of today’s Sun Herald: Continue reading “Anita Lee files update on Lisanby v USAA (Updated)”