FEDERAL COURT DISREGARDS JURY FINDINGS ON TREBLE DAMAGES, ENTERS TAKE-NOTHING JUDGMENT FOR CARRIER
Last week, a federal judge in Houston entered a take-nothing judgment in favor of insurer after a jury trial. Richardson v. Liberty Ins. Co., No. H-21-CV-161, 2021 WL 3207972, (S.D. Tex. July 26, 2021) was a first-party wind/hail case in which the jury found no breach of contract and no bad faith. The jury did find “false, misleading and deceptive acts or practices in the business of insurance,” in violation of Texas Insurance Code Chapter 541, but awarded no actual damages for the violation. The jury nevertheless awarded $7,000 in additional statutory damages, finding the violation was “knowing.” Citing the Supreme Court of Texas opinion in Menchaca, the court concluded that in the absence of a breach of contract and because there was no showing of an independent injury, the plaintiffs were not entitled to recover statutory damages or attorney fees, regardless of the jury’s verdict.