In September 2008, Hurricane Ike swept Texas off its feet – and not in a good way. The Category 4 hurricane left extensive damage in its wake, causing homeowners across the state to seek help from their insurance companies to rebuild.
Candelario and Maria Fuentes were among the many Texans whose homes were ruined in the storm. While the couple evacuated safely, the hurricane sent a tree through the roof over their master bedroom. Besides the obvious exterior damage, the tree also caused water damage in three rooms. The couple turned to their insurance agency, State Farm Lloyds, for help with the repairs.
Despite having valid claims, the insurance adjuster who evaluated the Fuentes’ home determined that the interior damage was not caused by the hurricane. The Fuentes family only received $4,988.63, a sum that paled in comparison to the estimated bills for the repairs their home so desperately needed.
The couple enlisted the help of Houston-based law firm Mostyn Law to file a claim in court. In 2013, the case was presented to a jury, which concluded that State Farm did not properly investigate the couple’s insurance claim and failed to fairly compensate them for the damage.
The insurance company quickly disputed the ruling, and the case went to the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston. After listening to State Farm’s counterarguments, the court made a decision in favor of Candelario and Maria Fuentes. “Having overruled all of State Farm’s issues, we affirm the trial court’s judgment,” Justice Marc W. Brown wrote for the court’s three-judge panel.
Amber Mostyn, the law firm’s co-founder, sees the ruling as a victory for consumers. “This case sends the message that juries in Texas will protect homeowners. State Farm and other insurance companies have obligations under their contracts that they cannot escape. Insurance companies must pay legitimate claims when Texas homeowners need help,” Mostyn said.
Since the appellate court ruled in their favor, the Fuentes family has received $334,739.24 from the insurance agency, enough to restore their home and bring normalcy back to their lives.