Slidell homeowner seeks more payment on Gustav claim

Michelle Massey Jun. 8, 2010, 3:28am

A Slidell property owner is suing his insurance provider for failing to pay claims filed after Hurricane Gustav.

Frezzel Magee, Sr. filed suit against Empire Fire and Marine Insurance Company April 12 in the St. Tammany Parish District Court. The defendant removed the case to federal court in New Orleans May 20.

Magee says his home and belongings were destroyed Sept. 1, 2009 as a result of Hurricane Gustav. Magee allegedly reported the loss to his insurance company within 30 days. According to court records, Empire has not paid the full claim, causing Magee to spend a significant amount of money because his home is uninhabitable.

"Despite multiple telephone conversations, correspondence and inspections by defendant, Empire, plaintiff has yet to be fully and justly compensated for the damages to the dwelling and personal property caused by this covered peril," the lawsuit states.

Empire has paid Magee $4,256.50 toward his claim. The homeowner's policy issue by Empire provides for $116,000 in coverage for Magee's house but the company has allegedly denied the claim because the damage was caused by a non-covered period and/or wind and hurricane damage.

The plaintiff accuses the defendant of acting arbitrarily and capriciously and is seeking additional damages based on allegations of bad faith claims.

Magee is seeking damages for mental anguish, financial distress, inconvenience, costs and attorney's fees.

Under Louisiana regulations, if the claim is not paid within 30 days, the insured could be entitled to penalties in the amount of 25 percent of the unpaid amount or $1,000, whichever is greater. If the amount due is not paid within 60 days after satisfactory proof of loss, the insured is entitled to penalties in the amount of two times the damage sustained or $5,000, whichever is greater.

Attorney William J. Salvaggio of Jefferson is representing Magee.

U.S. Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv01525

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