Stemming the Tide of Hailstorm Lawsuits in Texas

As a lifelong Texan, Cynthia Leal has lived through a lot of hailstorms, but she’ll not soon forget the storm of 2014.

The day after the storm, so-called “runners” for plaintiffs’ law firms were knocking on doors in Cynthia’s neighborhood. These “runners” are a type of door to door salesman for plaintiffs firms, recruiting homeowners to sue their insurance companies.

“She (the runner) took me outside she said, you see there you see on your roof, that storm caused this,” explained Cynthia. “They showed me pictures of checks, of thousands of dollars. This guy went and he bought a motorcycle, this guy went and he put a pool in his house.”

Leal initially declined to participate, but after weeks of persistence she finally agreed to the lawyers offer to help her file an insurance claim. It wasn’t long before she find out she had been taken for a ride.

The law firm negotiated an $11,000 settlement — far less than the $40,000 Leal had been told it would cost to repair her roof.

For her troubles, Leal would only be offered a few hundred dollars.

“I felt like I was pushed into a corner, I didn’t know where to go, what to do, how to get out of it,” she said. “I was terrified.”

Texas hail storm litigation has exploded in recent years, with some estimates of more than 36,000 cases filed since 2012. The Texas Department of Insurance estimates a 1,400 percent increase in these lawsuits between 2012 and 2015.

Hail is just one type of storm-related litigation. Similar cases are brought after tornadoes and other natural disasters. That’s why Texas has a new law to stem the tide of these storm chase lawsuits — to stop plaintiffs’ lawyers from using homeowners like Cynthia as settlement pawns.

“I don’t know if it’s the lawyers, the adjusters, who it is exactly, but something is wrong with the system,” said Cynthia. “I mean if you go from $40,000 to giving the homeowner $600, I mean, where is it going to?

Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2017: Episode 2

15 Year Old Sues Mom for Confiscating his Phone

It’s not uncommon for a concerned mother to take certain steps to ensure her child buckles down on schoolwork. That may include taking away television privileges, grounding the kid from going out with friends on the weekend or, these days, confiscating a smartphone.

But that latter action landed one Spanish mom in court recently, as her 15 year old son sued her – accusing her of “mistreatment” after she confiscated his phone to make him study. FoxNews.com reports that a Spanish judge sided with the mom, ruling that she was “well within her rights” as a mother to confiscate the phone.

Woman Sues Restaurant After Falling off Popular Donkey Statue

The donkey statue at El Jalisco restaurant in Tallahassee, Florida is a popular feature for patrons at the Mexican restaurant.

It’s so popular, in fact, that patrons have organized a “For the Donkey” Facebook campaign to save the popular statute after one local woman sued the restaurant after she hopped up on the statue and reportedly fell and injured herself.

Massachusetts Man Files Class Action Lawsuit over ‘Fake Butter’

Is so-called “fake butter” on your bagel worthy of a lawsuit? A Massachusetts Dunkin’ Donuts customer seems to thinks so

He ordered a bagel with what he thought was real butter, but discovered the butter wasn’t actually from a cow. So, he filed two lawsuits, even seeking class action status for any other customers who might have similar issues with their buttered bagels.

Lawsuits Cost West Virginia

As a West Virginia state legislator, Kayla Kessinger is no stranger to the debate surrounding the state’s business and lawsuit climate.

“In order to bring jobs into this state, we have to make West Virginia more competitive,” Kessinger told Faces of Lawsuit Abuse. “And one of the biggest areas where we’re lacking is in tort reform.

But for Kessinger, it’s also personal.

That’s because her family owns Synergy Sand — a small business that supplies sand to the hydraulic fracturing industry.

“When the bottom fell out of coal and we lost the business that we had run for several years, we decided that we wanted to get involved in the natural gas industry, particularly with some of the fracking that’s up in the Northern Panhandle and in Wheeling, ” explained Kessinger. “When we started to pursue the liability insurance that was required for the company to operate, we were informed that, ‘if you were anywhere else in the country, you would be able to get insurance in no time.”

Because of the state’s lawsuit climate, however, the company spent months trying to get the insurance. That, said Kessinger, left her family struggling financially.

“Businesses are so afraid to come into West Virginia and invest in our state because of the fear of frivolous lawsuits,” she said.

The West Virginia legislature has passed a number of important legal reforms in recent years. One proposed reform that hasn’t yet passed the legislature, however, is a measure to create an Intermedia Court of Appeals to help with the state’s backlog of lower court decisions.

To learn more about the effort to create an Intermediate Court of Appeals and West Virginia’s lawsuit climate, please click here or watch the video above.

 

Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2017: Episode 1

“Negligent Handshake” Leads to Lawsuit Between Lawyers

Call it, perhaps, a handshake disagreement.

Two Florida lawyers are meeting in court because of a handshake that one of the attorneys claims left him in “severe pain.”

It may sound silly.  But George H. Vallario, Jr., 76, claims that the suit is no joke.  Vallario contends that his friend Peter Lindley, 60, shook his hand so violently hard that it caused him recurring pain. 

What’s more, Vallario claims that this lawsuit might even have been avoided if his buddy Lindley had “just apologized.” 

Alas, with no apology forthcoming, Vallario is seeking $100,000 in damages for the handshake injury or “as much as [he] can get” for the pain and suffering that was caused by the oppressive handshake.

Channeling his internal Jackie Chlies, the famous plaintiffs’ lawyer character from Seinfeld, Vallario called the offending handshake “unexpected, unprovoked, uninvited, unauthorized, uncalled for, and most certainly negligent.”

No word yet on if Lindley’s defense will be based on the idea that if “the handshake don’t fit, you must acquit.”

Until death, or lawsuit, do us part?

A French man is suing the ride-sharing company Uber for ruining his marriage.

The accusation? The plaintiff claims that, once he had logged in to Uber on his wife’s phone, the app continued to provide her notifications of his pick-ups and drop-offs.  Whatever it was that his wife saw in those notifications allegedly motivated her to file for divorce.

Talk about a bad ride.

The lawsuit seeks an astonishing €45 million, or about $48 million, in damages for the “pain” caused to the plaintiff in the case.

The case is pending, so we have yet to see if the courts will pick up and take the defendants at Uber for a ride for this allegedly destroyed marriage.

New Jersey Man Sues Over Christmas Tree “Negligence”

So much for the Christmas spirit.

A New Jersey man is suing the owners of an apartment complex for injuries he claims he suffered because of a “recklessly, carelessly and/or negligently” discarded Christmas tree that caused him injury.

Kyu Taik Chung, of New Milford, claims that he suffered “severe and permanent injuries” from the discarded Christmas tree and that the experience has caused him “great pain and torment, both mental and physical.”

Let’s just say he wasn’t singing “O, Christmas Tree.”

Chung is currently seeking a jury trial and an unspecified amount in monetary damages.

Everyone sing along: “Fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la lawsuit.”

Woman Sues Restaurant After Falling off Popular Donkey Statue

The donkey statue at El Jalisco restaurant in Tallahassee, Florida is a popular feature for patrons at the Mexican restaurant.

It’s so popular, in fact, that patrons have organized a “For the Donkey” Facebook campaign to save the popular statute after one local woman sued the restaurant after she hopped up on the statue and reportedly fell and injured herself.

In August 2015, Kimberly Bonn visited the restaurant and voluntarily climbed up on the donkey statue, which she says was “smooth and slick,” causing her to fall.

She’s now suing El Jalisco, reportedly seeking damages of more than $15,000, saying that the restaurant owner encourages patrons to ride the donkey and that the statute lacks “safety features, such as a steps, a ladder, or a non-slip saddle.”

Supporters of the restaurant — and the donkey — have made it known they think Bonn’s lawsuit is ridiculous, with their Facebook campaign page stating:

“Just because you are an a*s doesn’t mean you should be treated like one! Join us in standing up for this poor donkey from El Jalisco Restaurant here in Tallahassee as he prepares for the fight of his life against a powerful legal entity who is “for the people” – Share the page and pictures here using #ForTheDonkey.”

The “For the Donkey” theme, of course, is a playful swipe at the plaintiffs’ firm representing Bonn, Morgan & Morgan, which uses the phrase “For the People” as its tagline.