More than 10 years after Hurricane Rita, well owner awarded $41.6 million from insurers

Hurricane Rita destroyed an oil and gas well about 75 miles off the coast of Louisiana in 2005, but when Prime Natural Resources sought to recover damages from its insurance company, it was rebuffed.  

Prime, a Houston venture capital firm that owned a 50 percent stake in the well, sued several underwriters through the Lloyds of London syndicate to help repay the $17 million it cost to rebuild the well and adjacent platform.

On Friday, a Harris County jury awarded Prime $41.6 million, a decision that could benefit other drillers that carry similar insurance policies on their wells. The case, which wound its way through the courts for the past decade, is a dispute that isn’t all that different from the problems homeowners face when they discover that foundation or other types of damage aren’t covered under their homeowners policy.

J. Clifton Hall III, the Houston lawyer representing the underwriters, said his clients are considering the jury verdict and what will eventually be entered as the judgment by state district Judge Michael Gomez. From there, he said, the underwriters will give close scrutiny to their appellate options.

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