Estate wins $10M in punitive damages against USAA in Hurricane Katrina claims case

The estate of an Ocean Springs woman won $10 million in punitive damages against an insurance company over a Hurricane Katrina claim.

A Jackson County jury returned the verdict Friday against USAA Insurance. The estate of Sylvia Minor of Ocean Springs had claimed that USAA denied its Hurricane Katrina claim in bad faith.

Attorneys Jim Reeves and David Baria represented the estate. “This verdict should send a message to insurance companies that in the future when dealing with hurricane losses, the companies must promptly pay the claims that are owed,” Reeves said in a statement.

Evidence in the case indicated that USAA took more than seven years to pay certain claims presented by the Minors and did so only after a lawsuit was filed.

USAA said in a statement that it plans to appeal the verdict.

“Hurricane Katrina was a devastating storm, and USAA helped thousands of members with claims. We thank the jury for its time but strongly disagree with its findings. The evidence does not support this decision or the excessive punitive damages. We will appeal this ruling.”

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