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Collins v. State Farm Ins. Co.

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

February 4, 2015

EDWARD COLLINS
v.
STATE FARM INSURANCE COMPANY AND REGGIE GLASS

APPEAL FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH. NO. 2006-09573, DIVISION " L-6" . Honorable Kern A. Reese, Judge.

John-Michael Lawrence, JOHN-MICHAEL LAWRENCE, LLC, New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT.

Adam P. Massey, Brent Michael Burns, Kourtni R. Mason, KING, KREBS & JURGENS, P.L.L.C., New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.

(Court composed of Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu, Judge Rosemary Ledet).

OPINION

Page 988

[2014-0419 La.App. 4 Cir. 1] Rosemary Ledet, Judge.

This is an insurance agent negligence case coupled with an insurance coverage dispute. The insured, Edward Collins, brought this suit against his insurer, State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (" State Farm" ),[1] and his insurance agent, Reggie Glass. From the trial court's judgment granting Mr. Glass' motion for summary judgment. Mr. Collins appeals. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In January 2000, Mr. Collins filed a claim under his homeowner's policy with State Farm for roof damage to his property located at 7508 Lafourche Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. State Farm adjusted the claim and paid the damages due under the policy. In September 2004, Mr. Collins

Page 989

submitted another claim under his homeowner's policy. During its investigation of this claim, State Farm discovered that Mr. Collins failed to repair his roof after he was paid for his 2000 claim. State Farm thus decided not to renew Mr. Collins' homeowner's policy when it expired on May 30, 2005. On April 27, 2005, State Farm sent a notice of nonrenewal to Mr. Collins and his mortgagees. Mr. Collins alleged that he never received a notice of nonrenewal. On or about August 29, 2005, Mr. Collins filed a [2014-0419 La.App. 4 Cir. 2] claim under his homeowner's policy against State Farm for damages his property sustained as a result of Hurricane Katrina.[2] State Farm denied the claim, asserting that there was no longer an effective homeowner's policy for Mr. Collins' property as a result of its nonrenewal in May 2005.

On August 28, 2006, Mr. Collins commenced this suit against State Farm and Mr. Glass.[3] In his petition, Mr. Collins alleged that State Farm violated its duties as an insurer by failing to adjust his claim and by denying coverage in bad faith. He alleged that the week before Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Glass, his insurance agent, informed him that he was fully covered with his flood and homeowner's insurance policy.[4] However, he alleged that after Hurricane Katrina he was informed that his homeowner's insurance had been dropped without prior written notice. He further alleged that Mr. Glass failed to disclose material information to him causing delay and damage.

During Mr. Collins' deposition, however, he retracted the allegation contained in his petition that Mr. Glass had informed him he was covered the week before Hurricane Katrina. Instead, he testified that Mr. Glass' office manager, Linda Jackson, was the one who had misinformed him that he had coverage under his homeowner's policy. He testified in his deposition as follows:

[2014-0419 La.App. 4 Cir. 3] Q: When was the first time you remember talking with [Mr. Glass] or seeing him face to face?
A: After the hurricane.
Q: You didn't have any dealings with Mr. Glass personally before Hurricane Katrina?
A: No I didn't need to.
Q: Had you had any conversations or discussion or any other kind of contact with people who worked in Reggie Glass' insurance office before the storm?
A: Yes, I have.
Q: Who did you talk with before the storm? Who was at Reggie's office?
A: Linda Jackson.
...
Q: So, in July, you believe you spoke with Linda Jackson about the coverage on your home?

Page 990

A: Yes, I don't believe, I know I did.
Q: All right.
A: I am positive, I did.
Q: And when you spoke with her, was Hurricane Katrina already in the Gulf of Mexico?
A: It was out there in the water. Now, what part of the water, I don't know but, it was showing up on the radar.
Q: And so, did you discuss your coverages with Ms. Jackson?
A: Ms. Linda Jackson.
Q: And what did she tell you, you had ...

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