State Farm Rests; Jury To Get Gemmill Case Thursday

A Biloxi city councilman may find out on Thursday if he's won his fight against State Farm. Ed Gemmill is suing the insurance company for $89,000 for refusing to pay the homeowner's portion of his claim. He's also asking for $107,000 for contents and $5 million in punitive damages.

On Wednesday, State Farm rested its case, but not before calling a coastal engineer, Robert Dean, and a wind engineer, Kurt Gerley, to the stand.  Both experts testified that they believe water, not wind, destroyed Gemmill's home.

They also said that the testimony of one witness goes against the laws of science.

Gemmill's neighbor William Prince testified he saw the roof blow off around 5:45 a.m.  on August 29th, 2005.

Wind engineer Kurt Gerly says data from two weather stations show sustained winds at the Gemmill property at 6:00 a.m. were around 60 miles per hour. The engineer said the likelihood that a roof could blow off under those conditions was "extraordinarily low."  He said, "I've never seen it happen."

Gerly said there could have been as much as 10 percent shingle loss before water destroyed the house. He also testified for State Farm in the Norman and Genevieve Broussard slab case and said some roof damage was likely.

State Farm attorneys told Judge L.T. Senter Jr. that since he expressed concerns in the Broussard trial that State Farm hadn't offered to pay Biloxi couple anything, State Farm had sent Ed Gemmill a check for more than $5,000, the amount the company believes would have covered shingle loss.

Ed Gemmill says he has not cashed that check. His attorney, Bill Walker, told the judge the Gemmill case has everything that Broussard case had but worse. Walker said the Gemmills had a witness who State Farm ignored, referring to William Prince.

Gemmill acknowledges State Farm has paid $128,000 for his flood insurance policy and another $18,000 to $20,000 in living expenses.

On Wednesday, both sides asked for directed verdicts on portions of the lawsuit. The judge says he will announce his decisions Thursday morning, but this case will definitely go to the jury.