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Complete Defense Verdict in Hurricane Case

May 22, 2024

Sarah Goldberg and Charles Watkins, of our Miami office, obtained a complete defense verdict in a hotly contested Hurricane Irma full denial case.

The Plaintiff homeowner filed a lawsuit for breach of contract after her Hurricane Irma claim was denied in 2018. Plaintiff reported damage approximately 9 months after the storm, when a bedroom ceiling collapsed. Plaintiff hired a mitigation company three times between June 2018 and June 2020.

At trial, Plaintiff sought six figures for roof replacement and interior damage, while the mitigation company sought over $50,000 for its services. The lawsuit exposed the Defendant insurance carrier to potential fees in the hundreds of thousands, and likely a multiplier.

After a four-day trial, the jury ruled in favor of the insurance carrier finding that Plaintiff failed to prove Hurricane Irma caused the damage. Plaintiff unsuccessfully tried to exclude photos of a similar prior claim several times. Sarah’s skillful cross-examination revealed the prior claim damaged the same areas, and she demonstrated Plaintiff’s dishonesty about the prior loss. The coup de grâce came when Charles pounced on the overreach of Plaintiff's attorney and forced Plaintiff's expert to read into evidence his testimony that the repairs did not meet code – this, after hours of refusing to directly answer questions.

The insurance carrier’s expert showed the roof had no wind damage wind damage but rather repeated problems due to improper repair. Demonstratives illustrated and convinced the jury what real wind damages looked like with this type of roof.

With over five years of litigating numerous issues concerning expert testimony, dozens of Motions in Limine, prior claim photographs, the application, and burden shifting for trial, this trial win resulted in a huge cost savings for the carrier of multiple six figures.
Complete Defense Verdict in Hurricane Case

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