Jury Allowed To Award Punitive Damages In Councilman's Suit Against State Farm

A federal jury will decide what, if anything, State Farm owes a Biloxi city council member for the loss of his home during Katrina.

Thursday morning, Judge L.T. Senter, Jr. denied both plaintiff and defense attorneys' motions for directed verdicts on dwelling and contents. He also denied a defense motion for a directed verdict on punitive damages.

Judge Senter said the Gemmill case differs from the Broussard case in that State Farm denied it owed anything to the Broussards. But in two letters, and a $5,700 check sent to Gemmill, State Farm indicated it did believe there was some money owned for wind damage.

The judge also said that Gemmill's acceptance of a $128,000 flood insurance payment acknowledges that he believes water did some of the damage to his home.

Back in January, Norman and Genevieve Broussard were awarded $2.5 million in their suit against State Farm. The amount was later reduced to $1 million by Judge Senter.

The jury in the Gemmill case will hear closing arguments Thursday morning, then begin deliberations. WLOX News will have more on this story throughout the day.