Lufkin man, insurance company at odds over Bugatti in lagoon

Photo courtesy of Chris Paschenko/The Galveston County Daily News
Photo courtesy of Chris Paschenko/The Galveston County Daily News

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin man and an insurance company out of Pennsylvania have been at odds since June 2010 over him driving a million-dollar car into a lagoon in Galveston.

Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging that Andy House made a wrongful claim in the damage of his 2006 Bugatti Veyron, estimated at a value of $2.2 million.

House drove the vehicle into the lagoon on Oct. 1, 2009, saying he had dropped his cellphone and when he picked it up, he was distracted by a pelican and drove it into a three-foot deep lagoon.

[See a copy of the full complaint filed in federal court.]

A nearby motorist caught the accident and captured it on video, which was then posted to YouTube.

According to the complaint, a confidential informant told the insurance company that House had offered him money to steal the car and burn it, making it appear it was stolen. The informant also said that when House drove the car into the lagoon, House offered to pay the confidential informant a portion of the insurance proceeds once recovered to remain silent during the investigation.

The insurance also has named House's lien-holder, Lloyd Gillespie, of Nacogdoches, in the lawsuit. According to the complaint, Gillespie sold the car to House on a $1,050,000 interest-free loan.

According to the complaint, House had sought the insurance coverage with the understanding the car would be used predominantly for display. However, House had put 1,200 miles on the car during the three weeks he had owned it.

The complaint states that during the day of the accident, "House had driven the vehicle from Lufkin, Texas to a friend's place outside of Houston. He then proceeded to a Taco Cabana for breakfast followed by a shopping errand to a Sprint store to buy a battery charger. After the Sprint store he drove into Galveston, Texas. It has been reported in the news and by witnesses to the Incident that Mr. House stated he was in Galveston to look at commercial property presumably for business. After driving around Galveston he stopped at a Wing Stop for lunch. After leaving Wing Stop he proceeded on another errand to a boat marina to look at purchasing a boat just before the accident. It was on the I-45 feeder road attempting to exit to go to the Marina that Mr. House wrecked his car. Mr. House apparently was attempting to access his GPS device on the phone to find the marina when he dropped the phone causing him to lose control of the car."

After driving the car into the lagoon, House left the car running for 15 additional minutes, causing further damage to the car, according to the complaint. House told the insurance company he did that because he was being bitten by mosquitoes.

The insurance company also claims that House misrepresented the use of the vehicle by using it for personal use, and not for the use of his business, Performance Auto Sales.

Since June 2010, both parties have sought summary judgments from the judge, which has been denied. According to federal court transcripts, the case has also gone into mediation, which was unsuccessful.

The next deadline in the case is Friday, in which the defense attorney can oppose the plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint.

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