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State v. All Prop. & Cas. Ins. Carriers Authorized & Licensed to do Business in Louisiana

Supreme Court of Louisiana

August 25, 2006, Decided

No. 2006-CD-2030

Opinion

 [*316]  [Pg 1] TRAYLOR, Justice.

We exercise our supervisory authority in an expedited manner to determine whether Acts 2006, Nos. 739 and 802, which extend the prescriptive period under which certain insurance claims arising from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita may be filed and which may alter the insurance contractual provisions regarding the time period in which to bring a claim, are constitutional. After review of the relevant state and federal law, we find that the legislative acts at issue are constitutional.

[Pg 2] FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf South region of the United States, including large land areas in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. In the southeastern portion of Louisiana, the storm surge swept across the coastal areas, causing extensive damage to property. In the City of New Orleans, where the levees failed, flood waters swamped large portions of the City. The physical devastation [**2]  to homes and businesses in the aftermath of the storm itself and the subsequent flooding have additionally resulted in the displacement of a large portion of the population of the State who formerly resided in the storm-devastated areas. These former residents of southeastern Louisiana were scattered across all fifty states by Hurricane Katrina and hundreds of thousands are estimated to still be displaced outside of the State. A staggering number of houses and businesses in Louisiana were either destroyed or suffered major damage.

On September 25, 2005, Hurricane Rita hit the southwestern portion of the State of Louisiana. The storm surge associated with Hurricane Rita inundated coastal communities, leveled buildings and breached levees. As with Hurricane Katrina, mass displacement of residents occurred, this time of the citizens formerly residing in the southwestern segment of the state. Many of these citizens continue to be displaced at this time.

In the aftermath of these two storms, Governor Blanco issued several Executive Orders that extended various legal deadlines that were impossible to meet under the twin circumstances of physical devastation of property and displacement [**3]  of citizens. See Executive Order Nos. KBB 2005-32, KBB 2005-48 and KBB 2005-67. 1  [*317]  As a [Pg 3] further response to the extraordinary circumstances faced by many Louisiana citizens, the Louisiana Legislature enacted House Bill 1289 and House Bill 1302, now known as Acts 2006, Nos. 739 and 802, which extend the prescriptive period within which citizens may file certain claims under their insurance policies for losses occasioned by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Prior to these amendments, Louisiana law held that no insurance contract issued in Louisiana could limit the right of action against an insurer to a period less than twelve months. See La. R.S. 629(A)(3).

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937 So. 2d 313 *; 2006 La. LEXIS 2214 **; 2006-2030 (La. 08/25/2006);

STATE OF LOUISIANA v. ALL PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE CARRIERS AUTHORIZED AND LICENSED TO DO BUSINESS IN THE STATE OF LOUISIANA

Subsequent History:  [**1]  Released for Publication August 25, 2006.

Prior History: ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE NINETEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, THE HONORABLE KAY BATES, PRESIDING.

State v. All Prop. & Cas. Ins. Carriers, 936 So. 2d 807, 2006 La. LEXIS 2314 (La., Aug. 22, 2006)

CORE TERMS

Hurricane, insurers, impairment, district court, period of prescription, insurance policy, flood insurance, file a claim, provisions, claim for damages, attorney general, prescription, time period, one year, oral argument, contractual obligation, retroactively, parties, policyholders, contractual, proceedings, regulation, expedited, hardships, legitimate public purpose, contractual relationship, homeowners', effective, carriers, policies

Civil Procedure, Declaratory Judgments, State Declaratory Judgments, Scope of Declaratory Judgments, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Constitutionality of Legislation, General Overview, Inferences & Presumptions, State Constitutional Operation, Insurance Law, Liability & Performance Standards, Notice to Insurers, Property Insurance, Obligations, Notice Requirements, Governments, Legislation, Effect & Operation, Prospective Operation, Retrospective Operation, Types of Statutes, Interpretation, Congressional Duties & Powers, Contracts Clause, Scope, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Bills of Attainder & Ex Post Facto Clause, Bills of Attainder, Ex Post Facto Clause, Application & Interpretation, Police Powers, Statute of Limitations, Extensions & Revivals, Standing, Supremacy Clause, Supreme Law of the Land, Coverage, Flood Insurance, Severability