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Mealey's Insurance - Breach Of Contract Suit Over Hurricane Ike Claim Was Timely Filed, Magistrate Says

GALVESTON, Texas - A federal flood insurer's denial of an insured's supplemental Hurricane Ike claim following its review of an adjuster's estimate and requests did not trigger the one-year limitations period, a Texas federal magistrate judge ruled July 28, finding that the insured's breach of contract lawsuit was timely filed (Savina Rocha Fernandez v. Fidelity National Property and Casualty Insurance Co., No. 10-460, S.D. Texas; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98030).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Relators Have 'Edged Door Ajar' For Additional Discovery, 5th Circuit Rules

NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held July 13 that relators' allegations and trial evidence extend far beyond the realm of one bellwether claim under the False Claims Act and entitles them to at least some additional discovery, reversing a lower federal court in part in a qui tam action alleging that an insurer submitted false Hurricane Katrina flood claims to the U.S. government (U.S., ex rel. Rigsby v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., No. 14-60160, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12060).

Mealey's Insurance - Relators Have 'Edged Door Ajar' For Additional Discovery, 5th Circuit Rules

NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held July 13 that relators' allegations and trial evidence extend far beyond the realm of one bellwether claim under the False Claims Act and entitles them to at least some additional discovery, reversing a lower federal court in part in a qui tam action alleging that an insurer submitted false Hurricane Katrina flood claims to the U.S. government (U.S., ex rel. Rigsby v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., No. 14-60160, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12060).

Mealey's Insurance - Court Erred In Compelling Appraisal Of Wilma Claim, Florida Panel Says, Reverses

MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on June 17 found that a lower court erred when it compelled appraisal of an insured's supplemental Hurricane Wilma claim because the insured did not comply with his post-loss obligations under the policy, reversing and remanding (State Farm Florida Insurance Co. v. Alfredo Hernandez, No. 3D13-2263, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 9215).

Mealey's Insurance - Stipulated Judgment Bars Harm Under Collateral Estoppel Doctrine, Panel Affirms

NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 2 affirmed a lower federal court's dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the previous owners of a self-storage company alleging that they were denied the insurance proceeds they were owed for Hurricane Katrina damage, as well as the ability to maintain an ownership stake in the self-storage company (BCR Safeguard Holding L.L.C., et al. v. Morgan Stanley Real Estate Advisor Inc. et al., No. 14-31068, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 9268).

Mealey's Insurance - U.S. High Court Denies Condominium's Appeal In Hurricane Irene Coverage Suit

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on June 1 denied a condominium insured's writ of certiorari seeking to overturn the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' finding that its undisputed failure to strictly obey a federal flood insurance policy's proof-of-loss requirement dooms its Hurricane Irene claim (Admiralty Condominium Association Inc., Petitioner v. Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency, et al., No. 14-1283, U.S. Sup.; 2015 U.S. LEXIS 3680).

Mealey's Insurance - 5th Circuit Reverses, Remands Ruling In Federal Flood Policy Cancellation Dispute

NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 22 found that a lower federal court's denial of an insurer's motion for summary judgment was erroneous in part, remanding a coverage dispute arising from the insurer's cancellation of a federal flood insurance policy following Hurricane Ike (Robert Spong, et al. v. Fidelity National Property and Casualty Insurance Co., No. 13-41317, 5th Cir.).

Mealey's Insurance - Florida Panel Reverses 'Prompt' Notice, Prejudice Issues In Wilma Coverage Suit

MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on May 20 reversed and remanded the issues of whether an insured failed to provide "prompt" notice of her Hurricane Wilma claim and whether the insurer was prejudiced by the purported late notice in a breach of contract dispute (Edie Laquer v. Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Nos. 3D13-1115, 3D14-34, Fla., App., 3rd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 7570).

Mealey's Insurance - Florida High Court: Statutory Immunity Shields Insurer From Bad Faith Claim

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on May 14 found that a first-party bad faith cause of action under Section 624.155(1)(b), Florida Statutes, does not fall under the willful tort exception to the immunity granted to a nonprofit insurer by the Florida Legislature, quashing an appellate court's ruling in favor of the insured and answering a certified question in the affirmative in a coverage dispute arising from Hurricane Ivan (Citizens Property Insurance Corp. v. Perdido Sun Condominium Association Inc., etc., No. SC14-185, Fla. Sup.; 2015 Fla. LEXIS 1053).

Mealey's Insurance - Judge: It Is Time To Close Final Chapter Of Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Story

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge on May 1 found that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' construction, expansions, operation and failure to maintain a 77-mile-long navigational channel caused subsequent storm surge that was exacerbated during Hurricane Katrina and other storms and caused flooding on property that effected a temporary taking under the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment (St. Bernard Parish Government v. The United States, No. 05-1119, Fed. Clms.; 2015 U.S. Claims LEXIS 526).

Mealey's Insurance - Judge: Factual Overlap Makes Joinder Proper In Hurricane Isaac Coverage Dispute

NEW ORLEANS - There is sufficient factual overlap to make joinder proper because an insured's claim against a roofing company and its owner implicates preaccident repairs that were a factor in an insurer's adjustment of a Hurricane Isaac claim, a Louisiana federal judge ruled April 21, granting the insured's motion to remand for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (David R. Fine v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., et al., No. 15-80, E.D. La.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52205).

Mealey's Insurance - Trial Court Erred In Compelling Appraisal, Florida Panel Says In Reversal

MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on April 1 found that a lower court erred in issuing an order that compelled appraisal in a coverage dispute over a supplemental claim for Hurricane Wilma damage (State Farm Insurance Co. v. Efrain Xirinachs, et al., No. 3D14-1212, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 4681).

Mealey's Insurance - Coverage Owed For Debris Removal, Not Repairs To Oil Pipeline, Texas Panel Says

HOUSTON - A trial court did not err in determining that coverage is owed only for debris removal associated with repairs to an oil pipeline that was damaged during Hurricane Rita in 2005, the First District Texas Court of Appeals said March 26 (Prime Natural Resources Inc. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London, et al., No. 01-11-00995, Texas App., 1st Dist.; 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 2947).

Mealey's Insurance - Panel Affirms, Modifies Judgment In Insured's Favor In Hurricane Ike Coverage Suit

BEAUMONT, Texas - A Texas appeals panel on Feb. 19 affirmed a lower court's judgment in favor of an insured as modified in a coverage dispute over damage caused by Hurricane Ike (National Lloyds Insurance Co. v. Latosha A. Lewis, No. 09-13-00413-CV, Texas App., 9th Dist.; 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 1573).

Mealey's Insurance - Louisiana Panel Affirms Business Interruption, Bad Faith Awards Against Insurer

NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana appeals panel on Feb. 11 held that there there is sufficient evidence to support a jury's finding that the owner and operator of three radio stations sustained covered losses of $5,906,988 caused by Hurricane Katrina, further affirming a $2,953,494 bad faith ruling against the insurer (Citadel Broadcasting Corp., et al. v. Axis U.S. Insurance Co. a/k/a Axis Reinsurance Co., No. 2014-CA-0326, La. App., 4th Cir.).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Judge Refuses To Exclude Contractor's Report, Opinions, Testimony In Isaac Dispute

NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana federal judge on Feb. 5 denied a federal flood insurer's motion to exclude the report, opinions and testimony of a general contractor hired by the insured to inspect property damage caused by Hurricane Isaac, finding that the contractor's estimate is "reliable and relevant" (Ricarlo Alleyne v. Selective Insurance Company of the Southeast, et al., No. 13-5657, E.D. La.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14005).

Mealey's Insurance - Judge Refuses To Exclude Contractor's Report, Opinions, Testimony In Isaac Dispute

NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana federal judge on Feb. 5 denied a federal flood insurer's motion to exclude the report, opinions and testimony of a general contractor hired by the insured to inspect property damage caused by Hurricane Isaac, finding that the contractor's estimate is "reliable and relevant" (Ricarlo Alleyne v. Selective Insurance Company of the Southeast, et al., No. 13-5657, E.D. La.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14005).

Mealey's Insurance - Judge: Insured Failed To Submit Proof Of Loss With Independent Adjustor's Report

NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana federal judge on Feb. 6 held that because an insured did not submit a signed, sworn proof of loss with an independent adjustor's report on his supplemental Hurricane Isaac claim, he failed to comply with his federal flood insurance policy's proof of loss requirement (A.C. White v. Allstate Ins. Co., et al., No. 13-5634, E.D. La.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14669).

Mealey's Insurance - Louisiana Majority Rejects Appeal In Hurricane Katrina Coverage Dispute

NEW ORLEANS - A majority of the Louisiana Supreme Court denied an insured's appeal challenging an appeals court's ruling that an insurer's exception of lis pendens was properly sustainedas to five of the insured's claims, according to a Feb. 6 news release (Lionel Harris Sr., et al. v. Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Co., No. 2014-C -2484, La. Sup.).

Mealey's Insurance - Florida Majority Affirms Ruling In Insurer's Favor In Hurricane Wilma Suit

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A majority of a Florida appeals court on Feb. 4 found that a lower court properly granted summary judgment in favor of an insurer because the insurer participated in the appraisal process after a lawsuit compelling it to engage in arbitration was filed but not because of the lawsuit and nothing remained to be done as to the insured's requested relief for windstorm damage caused by Hurricane Wilma (Susan I. Pedersen v. Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, No. 4D12-4264, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 1426).

Mealey's Insurance - Relator Lacks Standing To Sue Under False Claims Act, Federal Judge Rules

HOUSTON - An independent adjuster lacks standing to sue under the False Claims Act (FCA) because he is not an original source, a Texas federal judge ruled Jan. 29, dismissing his qui tam lawsuit alleging that various insurers and adjusters committed fraud in responding to damage claims involving hurricanes Katrina and Ike (United States of America, ex rel. Kermith Sonnier v. The Standard Fire Insurance Co., et al., No. 12-1065, S.D. Texas; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10006).

Mealey's Insurance - Mississippi High Court Majority Agrees To Hear Hurricane Katrina Casino Barge Suit

JACKSON, Miss. - A majority of the Mississippi Supreme Court on Jan. 22 granted a petition for writ of certiorari filed by an insured seeking to reverse an appeals court's rejection of her bad faith and negligence lawsuit arising from her alleged loss caused by a casino barge that collided with her home during Hurricane Katrina (Cherri R. Porter v. Grand Casino of Mississippi Inc., et al., No 2010-CT-00307-SCT, Miss Sup.).

Mealey's Insurance - Insureds' Collapse Loss From Water Damage Is Not Covered, Panel Says

TRENTON, N.J. - A policy's anti-sequential clause and the exclusionary language for earth movement and water damage did not cover insureds' loss from a partial collapse of their building following Hurricane Irene, a New Jersey appeals panel affirmed Jan. 20, finding that water seepage caused soil erosion (Ashrit Realty LLC and Bhavika Realty LLC v. Tower National Insurance Co., No. A-1647-13T4, N.J. Super., App. Div.; 2015 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 107).

Mealey's Insurance - Federal Judge Amends Judgment In Hurricane Isaac Suit To Prevent Double Recovery

NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana federal judge on Jan. 12 denied a homeowners insurer's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law in a Hurricane Isaac coverage dispute but granted its alternative motion to amend a jury's award for dwelling damages from $70,000 to $69,448.89 to prevent the insureds from receiving $551.11 in double recovery (Tracey Arcement, et al. v. GeoVera Specialty Insurance Services Inc., No. 13-5436, E.D. La.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3902).

Mealey's Insurance - Insured Failed To Give Timely Notice Of Hurricane Wilma Loss, 11th Circuit Affirms

ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 8 affirmed a lower court's ruling that an insured failed to give timely notice of its loss caused by Hurricane Wilma, further finding that there is no material issue of fact as to whether the insured rebutted the resulting presumption of prejudice to the insurer (The Yacht Club on the Intracoastal Condominium Association Inc. v. Lexington Insurance Co., Nos. 13-12486, 13-15581, 13-15842, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 293).