Houston litigator Greg Cox convinced a South Texas jury that aninsurance company’s treatment of his client was so bad that itamounted to malice, turning what was originally a $76,500 hailstorm claim into a $1.8 million verdictrecently.

Cox, an attorney in Houston’s Mostyn Law, represents John R.Griffith, a McAllen homeowner who sued USAA Texas Lloyd’s Co. in2014 for fraud, breach of contract and violations of the TexasInsurance Code. Griffith alleged the insurance company failed tofully reimburse him for the severe damage his house sustained afterit was pummeled by baseball-sized hail in a 2012 storm.

Griffith alleged the company failed to reasonably investigatehis claim and paid for a portion of his roof repair; however, it failed to reimbursehim for the totality of his loss including damage to the home’sinterior, siding, pool deck and fence. USAA denied the allegationsand alleged that Griffith had failed to prove that the losses hesuffered were covered by his policy with the company.

Jury awarded exemplary damages

After a week-long trial, a Hidalgo County jury returned averdict on Feb. 7 finding that not only had USAA breached itspolicy and committed fraud, but that the damage it inflicted onGriffith was done with malice, prompting them to award him $800,000in exemplary damages on top of $1 million more for other causes ofaction.

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John Council

Senior reporter John Council is a native Texan who covers litigation and appellate courts in his home state. Contact him at [email protected]. On Twitter: @john_council