Judge tosses punitive damages in Katrina case

Published 3:40 pm Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Jackson County judge won’t let a jury consider punitive damages in the case of a Pascagoula couple who sued their insurer for unpaid Hurricane Katrina damages.

USAA had paid the retired Navy Admiral James Lisanby and his wife, Gladys Kemp Lisanby, $46,000 for their wind damage, denying the rest of their claim as tidal surge. Last week, a Jackson County jury decided the couple was entitled to an additional $910,000, which included wind damage and $86,000 each for pain and suffering.

On Saturday, Circuit Judge Billy Bridges issued an order canceling Monday’s arguments on punitive damages. He said punitive damages would not be considered.

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The Lisanbys filed suit against San Antonio-based USAA insurance for damage to their Pascagoula beach front home, as well as their rental cottage, garage and other losses. They also asked the jury to award an unspecified amount for emotional distress.

USAA lawyers had argued the Lisanbys’ homeowners insurance policy did not cover water, even wind-driven water.

The Lisanbys said USAA failed to properly and fully investigate the claim on the couple’s home before denying coverage.