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Houston attorneys Mark Kressenberg and Benjamin Ritz obtained a summary judgment in state court and on the eve of the trial between our client, Liberty Lloyds of Texas Insurance Company, and a policyholder.

No Breach of Contract and No Pre-judgment Interest

A Liberty Lloyds of Texas Insurance Company policyholder owned a property where wind allegedly caused tree and water-related damage. Plaintiff invoked appraisal, and the value of the loss was ultimately set by appraisal. Liberty paid the appraisal award and maximum potential prompt payment interest. Liberty then moved for motion for summary judgment to dismiss the remaining claims and attorney’s fees.

Plaintiff conceded that Liberty paid and owed nothing for the damage claim but owed amounts for attorney’s fees, “independent” injuries, and pre-judgment interest.

Liberty countered that owing zero damages and interest reduced attorney’s fees and interest owed to zero; Plaintiff has no injuries independent of his wind claim; and Plaintiff is estopped from asserting prejudgment interest because he lacks a breach of contract claim.

Court Analysis

The Texas state court agreed with Liberty’s briefing and granted its Motion for Summary Judgment completely. Under 542.007, payment of appraisal and statutory interest extinguishes any attorney’s fee obligation under a persuasive common-sense argument: multiplying 0 x 0 = 0.

Amount to be awarded in the judgment to claimant for claimant’s claim under the insurance policy for damage to or loss of covered property = $0 (numerator)

Amount alleged to be owed on the claim for that damage or loss to the covered property = $0 (denominator)

The result on any calculator = 0

Plaintiff’s injuries were not independent of his wind claim because they were predicated on the policy benefits of his wind claim. And under Texas Finance Code § 304.104, prejudgment interest is not owed until the date judgment is rendered, and there could be no breach of contract upon which prejudgment interest could be awarded.

Accordingly, the Court held nothing more was owed and granted Liberty’s Motion for Summary Judgment.

Related People

J. Mark Kressenberg

J. Mark Kressenberg


Benjamin L. S. Ritz
Senior Attorney

Benjamin L. S. Ritz


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