City of Jackson garners major victory in suit against insurance provider

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 12:45 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A federal judge has handed the city of Jackson a major victory in a suit against Zurich American Insurance Co.

Last week, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Jordan denied a request from Zurich asking for the case to be dismissed.

The city is suing the insurance provider for no less than $11.6 million in damages, the amount the city claims is needed to restore buildings that were damaged in a 2013 hailstorm.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said previously that the funds are needed, in part, to make repairs to several city-owned facilities, including the Eudora Welty Library, which sustained severe roof damage during the storm.

The buildings were covered by Zurich. The city claims that the hailstorm caused nearly $13.5 million in damages, but Zurich has only offered to pay $3.7 million, including a $2 million advance that was forwarded to Jackson to make emergency repairs.

Jackson filed suit in 2019, alleging breach of contract after the company refused to pay. Earlier this year, Zurich filed a motion to dismiss the case or a motion for summary judgment, saying the statute of limitations for filing a suit had expired.

Jordan, though, disagreed, saying that under Mississippi code, a company cannot impose statutes of limitations on the state or its municipalities.

Zurich, though, argued that the city agreed to a three-year statute of limitations as part of its contract with the company. Zurich also maintains that it extended the time for the city to file claims related to the 2013 hailstorm twice.

According to court records, 161 properties were covered under its policy with Zurich. Jackson paid the firm $225,000 in premiums for coverage between August 2012 and August 2013. The hailstorm occurred on March 18, 2013.

It was unclear how many buildings were damaged as a result of the storm. Initial estimates from insurance providers show 21 buildings were damaged, while Jackson claims that more than 150 structures sustained damage.

Court records show that Zurich would not accept additional findings of damage from the city and that Jackson and the firm continued to negotiate a final settlement on claims through November 2018.

Jackson filed suit in February 2019.

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