This Past week Texas Lawyer named Daly and Black their "Litigators
of the Week" for a jury trial victory against State Farm, an insurer
that repeatedly delays, denies, and unfairly handles claims. The text
of the article, published November 3, 2014, follows:
When John Scott Black directly examined his law firm partner Richard Daly
at a trial for a lawsuit their client Ginger Hanson had filed against
an insurance company, the two lawyers used the opportunity to deliver
a history lesson for the jury about why Texas lawmakers allowed a panel
to award attorney fees.
With Daly on the stand, Black asked: "And so tell us, this type of
case, is this the kind of case, as you understand it, where a jury can
be allowed to award fees?"
Daly answered: "Yes. The state legislature has built in a safeguard
in cases like this where, when you have an individual like Ms. Hanson
who filed a suit for an insurance company wrongfully denying her claim,
if she wins she can get her attorney fees. And that safeguard is put there
because otherwise, you know, you could see if she was—if we were
handling this on an hourly basis, we've put way more in time than
she is entitled to. She'd get nothing. You know, she'd spend $150,000
in attorney fees to recover $40,000. It doesn't make any sense."
The lesson plan worked for the two partners in Houston's Daly &
Black. Hanson had alleged that State Farm Lloyds breached its contract
when it denied her coverage of roof damage.
In a final judgment issued Oct. 23, 281st District Judge Sylvia Matthews,
on the basis of jury finding, awarded Hanson $12,878 in damages and $70,000
in attorney fees, as well as $45,000 for future appeals.
"Juries are smart," said Daly.
In a petition filed Nov. 15, 2012, Hanson alleged that State Farm Lloyds
had made a "biased and unfair" evaluation of her losses from
roof damage related to a storm. She cited breach of contract among her
causes of action.
On Feb. 26, State Farm Lloyds filed an answer generally denying the allegations.
Christopher W. Martin, a partner in Houston's Martin Disiere Jefferson
& Wisdom, who represents State Farm, did not return a call or reply
to an email by press time.
After a three-day trial, a jury on May 19 found that State Farm had failed
to comply with its contract and set the damages and attorney fees awards.
Matthews followed the jury with her final judgement.
Shortly before the trial started, Black and Daly decided to try the case
together, partly because, Daly noted, the defense "had four lawyers"
during the whole trial.
Daly was not surprised by the insurer's vigorous defense, and he said
he expects State Farm to appeal, which will make handy the attorney fees
the jury awarded Hanson for post-trial litigation.
For a copy of the actual article,
click here .