Hoover v. United Services Automobile AssociationAnnotate this Case
The issue before the Supreme Court in this case arose from an alleged breach of contract and bad-faith denial of Dr. Jack and Margaret Hoover’s homeowner’s insurance claim against United Services Automobile Association (USAA) following Hurricane Katrina. The trial judge granted USAA’s motion for directed verdict as to the Hoovers’ claims for: (1) the unpaid portion of losses; (2) mental anguish and emotional distress; and (3) punitive damages. The trial court further determined that there were issues of fact for the jury as to whether the Hoovers’ roof structure was damaged, and as to the Hoovers’ claim for additional living expenses. The jury found for the Hoovers and granted compensatory damages. The Hoovers appealed and USAA cross-appealed. After its review of the record, the Supreme Court found that trial court applied an incorrect legal standard and improperly shifted a burden of proof to the Hoovers. Therefore the Court reversed the directed verdict as to the unpaid damages, and remanded the case for a jury to determine whether USAA proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the unpaid loss was caused by an excluded storm surge. The trial court did not err, however, in directing a verdict for USAA as to the Hoovers’ claims for mental anguish, emotional distress, and punitive damages.