Insurance company target of Hurricane Isaac lawsuit

By Lizzy Fitzsousa | May 28, 2014

NEW ORLEANS – A local woman is suing her insurance company after she claims it severely underpaid damages to her house sustained during Hurricane Isaac.

Laura L. Gutierrez filed suit against Americas Insurance Company in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court on March 5.

Gutierrez alleges she is the holder of a policy issued by Americas covering her property located at 7001 Mayo Boulevard. The suit asserts Hurricane Isaac caused roof damage, resulting water damage and damage to the exterior and interior of the property. According to the lawsuit, the policy covered damage due to wind or hail. Gutierrez claims the adjuster did not spend adequate time at the property and failed to fully and properly evaluate the cause and extent of the damage. The suit further alleges the adjuster took advantage of Gutierrez’s lack of knowledge and tried to convince her the damage was minimal.

Americas represented the damages to be $16,400, however, the plaintiff claims damages actually exceeded $47,000 as evidenced by the estimate submitted by Homeland Solutions LLC.

The defendant is accused of negligence in handling the claim and hiring its adjuster, breach of contract, bad faith claims handling and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing.

Gutierrez is suing for damages including diminution in value of property, repair and remediation expenses and increased expenses, due amount, costs to hire investigative and engineering firms, consequential damages as a natural result of breach of contract, mental anguish, loss of use, attorneys fees, prejudgment interest and the costs of the litigation.

The plaintiff is represented by Shelly R. Hale and J. Andrew Lewis Jr. of Speights & Worrich and Catherine Hilton of Counsel-Speights & Horrich of New Orleans.

Americas answered on the suit on March 26; arguing that Gutierrz failed to comply with her policy, and claimed losses were caused by “wear and tear, marring, deterioration,” “rust, smog,” “inherent defect” and other uncovered causes.

Americas is represented by attorney William D. Shea of Baton Rouge.

Case is assigned to Division N Judge Ethel S. Julien.

Case no. 2014-02231.

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