In 2012, a windstorm damaged Deborah Hanson's home in Cypress, Texas. As you might expect, she made a claim for the damage, fully expecting State Farm, her insurer, to live up to the cheery ads it parades around on television – the same ads proclaiming to be your good neighbor.
Not only did State Farm deny her claim, it denied that there had been a storm in her neighborhood! It did so despite the fact that their own internal documents showed dozens of homes, including some on Ms. Hanson's street, were being repaired as a result of damage caused by the same storm!
Ms. Hanson did what any frustrated homeowner in this situation should do – she hired our firm. The lawyers at Daly & Black, P.C. sued State Farm and fought with State Farm's lawyers for nearly two years. State Farm's lawyers raised every single defense imaginable, hired one of Houston's premier insurance defense firms to defend the case, hired an MIT engineer to explain how the roof was defective before the storm struck, and hired a professional testifying lawyer to explain why Ms. Hanson's lawyers should not collect the fees they were seeking after nearly two years of litigation.
State Farm spared no expense defending this small roof claim.
Prior to trial, and after months of litigation expense (none of which we ever charge the client!) we offered to settle the matter for approximately $40,000 – a fraction of the time we had invested, but an amount that would have made our client whole. State Farm refused even that demand, never offering more than $30,000 to resolve the case.
Many lawyers might have taken this small amount of money, given the time and expense associated with trial, the relatively small gap between $30,000 and $40,000, and the risk of losing. We didn't.
We took State Farm to the mat, and won. A jury of men and women in Houston, Harris County, Texas decided that State Farm had breached its contract with our client, and ordered State Farm to pay nearly $90,000 (including fees). As is typical of State Farm, it refused to listen to the verdict, asked the Court to reduce the amounts to zero so it could walk away from Ms. Hanson unscathed. On September 18, 2014 the Court entered the judgment, upholding the jury's finding.
We fully expect State Farm to appeal the verdict – after all, why would State Farm listen to what its own neighbors (the jury) tell it to do. [Read the verdict here]
Next time you or your neighbors have a similar problem with State Farm, remember that the best neighbor is one that will fight for you – that's not State Farm. It's the lawyers from Daly & Black, P.C.