Here is a pretty good account of the Gemmill v. State Farm trial yesterday. Stung by a failure to pay any wind damage at all in the Broussard v. State Farm case, the insurer paid $5,000, minus a $2,700 deductible, so that Judge Senter couldn’t say they had totally abdicated responsibility. We’ll see if that makes a difference.
You will notice that the testimony of State Farm’s expert, Kurt Gurley, appears to be remarkably similar to the testimony he gave in Broussard: there is a chance that up to 10 percent of the shingles were damaged. Even without any payment for wind, I can’t quite figure out how that adds up to a directed verdict that no reasonable juror could find for State Farm, as Judge Senter decided in Broussard. In any event, here is the story’s account of how State Farm countered the evidence of Gemmill’s roof blowing off:
They also said that the testimony of one witness goes against the laws of science.
Gemmill’s neighbor William Prince testified he saw the roof blow off around 5:45 a.m. on August 29th, 2005.
Wind engineer Kurt Gerly [sic] says data from two weather stations show sustained winds at the Gemmill property at 6:00 a.m. were around 60 miles per hour. The engineer said the likelihood that a roof could blow off under those conditions was "extraordinarily low." He said, "I’ve never seen it happen."
I’ll let you know what happened as soon as I know.
UPDATE: Here is another story on the trial from the Sun Herald. Judge Senter will not give a directed verdict and will send the case to the jury after closing arguments.
SECOND UPDATE: Here is an Associated Press story pointing out that the jury will be considering punitive damages. Incidentally, I saw this story on the insurance news RSS feed from www.lloyds.com. You ought to consider adding this to your feedreader.