Arlington Citizen-Journal

Kennedale school district sues insurers over storm damage

The Kennedale school district is suing its insurers over coverage for storm damage to the central administration building that occurred more than a year ago.

Hail perforated the roof of the building at 120 N. Kennedale Parkway, creating leaks that damaged ceilings, walls and carpet, according to school officials and a lawsuit filed Feb. 23.

Bryan Beverly, the school district’s attorney, said that the damage from the December 2013 storms exceeds $300,000 and that the district has spent “thousands of dollars” in the meantime making temporary repairs to make the offices usable.

The lawsuit, assigned to Judge Don Cosby’s 67th state District Court in Fort Worth, seeks at least $1 million from the two insurers, Travelers Indemnity Co. and Texas School Property and Casualty Cooperative, for economic and penalty damages as well as damages for “improperly investigating the extensive losses.” The suit further alleges that the defendants “perpetrated fraud by misrepresentation.”

“They’re making Kennedale jump through a bunch of unnecessary hoops,” said Beverly, who works for the Voss Law Firm in The Woodlands, near Houston. “They’re basically asking for documents that they should be getting on their own.”

A Travelers spokesman said the company would not discuss ongoing litigation. James Holbrook, attorney for the the Texas School Property insurer — an insurance risk pool for school districts in the state — said he doesn’t comment on “actively litigated matters.”

School board President Joe Taylor said, “It ended up in a paralyzed situation; I’m sure that’s why the lawsuit got filed.” He said that while the temporary repairs are hiding most of the damage from visitors, there are no temporary fixes for the stained carpet. “The carpet is really the ugliest thing about it. It’s an embarrassment to me.”

Superintendent Gary Dugger said inclement weather continues to be a problem for the building. “Every time it rains,” he said, “we have to do more temporary repairs.”

Beverly said that while he has corresponded with the insurers as recently as January, no settlement has been offered.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants violated the Texas Insurance Code by, in part, “refusing to pay a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation.”

The suit also contends that the insurers “failed to explain the reasons for failing to offer adequate compensation.” 

Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641

Twitter: @Kaddmann