Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Got Road Home, Should We Still Sue Allstate?
Therese and I are now about six months into our very first lawsuit. We're suing Allstate. We claim that our house suffered structural damage and was racked from the winds of Katrina, and they, based on a bogus report from Haag Engineering, claim that our house was racked before the storm. We just received "interrogatories and requests for production" from Steven Lozes who is listed as Allstate's attorney. He's from the firm Lozes & Ponder, and they seem to do quite a bit of business for the insurance industry. It boggles my mind when I think of all the people making money off of the tragedy of Katrina. But even with all the illegal and unethical things Allstate has done to us during the past 17 months, we're considering dropping the lawsuit. We received $120,000 from the Road Home to fix our house (plus $30K to raise it). We have to repay this Road Home grant if we get any more money from Allstate. If we go to court, a judge might determine that Allstate owes us an additional $60,000. The attorney fees of this award would be about $20,000, leaving us with $40,000. But the Road Home might then claim we owe them the full $60,000, and in the end this case would cost us $20,000. This leads me to conclude that the Road Home is a gift more to the insurance industry than to homeowners. But in the meantime, we need to decide. I testified on behalf of the Murray Bill back in May, 2006. The bill increases the penalty of insurers who act in bad faith from 25% to 50% in Louisiana, and adds on attorney fees to the settlement. But we would have to prove Allstate acted in bad faith. They have, and we've documented our interactions with them extensively, but I don't know much about how difficult this is to prove. Our attorney, Greg DiLeo, told me that he was assured by Walter Leger, attorney for the Road Home, that the LRA will not "penalize" people for hiring an attorney. He said they will calculate the Road Home grant based on net as opposed to gross, so attorney fees would come from Allstate, not us. But he also said he hadn't seen this in writing, and what happens if Leger quits tomorrow? Does anyone have more information on this issue?