Jury returns $10M verdict against USAA in Hurricane Katrina case
JACKSON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - A Jackson County jury just returned a $10 million verdict for punitive damages against insurance giant United Services Automobile Association (USAA).
Now 17 years after Hurricane Katrina roared ashore in South Mississippi, the case is believed to be the last of the outstanding Katrina lawsuits in Jackson County.
Jurors awarded $10 million in punitive damages to the Estate of Sylvia Minor in Ocean Springs. The lawsuit said USAA denied the Minors’ Hurricane Katrina claim in bad faith. Evidence in the case indicated that USAA took more than seven years to pay certain claims presented by Paul and Sylvia Minor, and did so only after a lawsuit was filed.
“This verdict should send a message to insurance companies, that in the future, when dealing with hurricane losses, the companies must promptly pay the claims that are owed,” said attorney Jim Reeves, who along with attorney David Baria represented the estate. “This verdict should help insureds and all homeowners get a fair shake from insurance companies in the next storm.”
USAA released a statement Saturday regarding the ruling.
“Hurricane Katrina was a devastating storm, and USAA helped thousands of members with claims. We thank the jury for its time but strongly disagree with its findings. The evidence does not support this decision or the excessive punitive damages. We will appeal this ruling,” a representative said.
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