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Headline Catastrophic Loss Legal News from LexisNexis®



 



Florida Panel Affirms Ruling In Hurricane Wilma Coverage Dispute
MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on Aug. 9 affirmed without discussion a lower court's ruling in favor of an insurer in a lawsuit arising from the insured's alleged property damage caused by Hurricane Wilma (Waterview Condominium Association, Inc. v. Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Nos. 3D15-1760 and 3D15-2088, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.).



Panel Says It Lacks Jurisdiction To Entertain Appeal Of Hurricane Wilma Suit
MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel held on July 26 that it lacks jurisdiction to hear a homeowners insurer's appeal of a Hurricane Wilma coverage dispute, dismissing the appeal (Gulfstream Property & Casualty Insurance Co. v. David Coley, No. 3D16-885, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 10651).



3rd Circuit Affirms Verdict In Insured's Favor In Collapsed Facade Dispute
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 26 affirmed a Pennsylvania federal jury's verdict in favor of an insured after the stone facade on her home collapsed, rejecting the insurer's argument that the main cause of the collapse is excluded under the homeowners policy (Ahsaki Gordon, et al. v. Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Co., No. 16-3671, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 13507).



New York Justice: Insurer Fails To Show Superstorm Sandy Suit Is Time-Barred
NEW YORK - A New York justice on July 20 denied an insurer's motion to dismiss an insured's lawsuit arising from Superstorm Sandy damage (Steven Swarzman v. AIG Property Casualty Co., No. 653618/2016, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2781).



New York Justice: Fact Issues Preclude Summary Judgment In Superstorm Sandy Dispute
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - A New York justice on July 11 denied both an insurance broker's and insured's motions for summary judgment in a coverage dispute arising from Superstorm Sandy damage (386 3rd Avenue Partners Limited Partnership, et al. v. Alliance Brokerage Corp., No. 500074/14, N.Y. Sup., Kings Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2683).



Insured Failed To Raise Fact Issue As To Why Appraisal Award Should Be Set Aside
DALLAS - A Texas appeals panel on July 24 affirmed a lower court's summary judgment ruling in favor of an insurer in a breach of contract lawsuit arising from a $73,000 appraisal award for the insured's hailstorm damage (Floyd Circle Partners LLC v. Republic Lloyds, No. 05-16-00224, Texas App., 5th Dist., 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 6906).



Iowa Majority Reverses Ruling As To Appraisal Award, Breach Of Contract Claim
DES MOINES, Iowa - A majority of the Iowa Court of Appeals on July 19 found that a lower court erred in finding that a $1.4 million appraisal award in a hailstorm coverage dispute was not binding on an insurer and its insured, reversing and remanding the lower court in part (Walnut Creek Townhome Association v. Depositors Insurance Co., No. 16-0121, Iowa App., 2017 Iowa App. LEXIS 722).



Federal Judge Substitutes Class Representative In Dispute Over Insurance Practices
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A Missouri federal judge on July 24 granted an insured's motion to intervene as the representative of a class action alleging that a homeowners insurer committed breach of contract when it unlawfully applied a policy's $1,000 deductible to an actual cash value (ACV) payment in a hailstorm coverage dispute (Eric Lafollette v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., No. 14-04147, W.D. Mo.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114779).



Federal Judge Rules On Summary Judgment Motions In Hailstorm Coverage Dispute
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A Missouri federal judge on July 24 granted in part and denied in part summary judgment motions and amended class definitions in a dispute over whether a homeowners insurer should have applied a deductible to the actual cash value (ACV) payment it issued the insureds for their hail damage loss (David Bond, et al. v. Liberty Insurance Corp., No. 15-04236, W.D. Mo., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114778).



Judge Grants Motion To Bifurcate Trial And To Hold Bad Faith Issues In Abeyance
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A Kentucky federal judge on July 18 granted an insurer's motion to bifurcate an insured's bad faith counterclaim from other claims in a hailstorm coverage dispute and to hold the discovery of bad faith issues in abeyance pending the resolution of the other claims (Employers Mutual Casualty Co. v. SG&D Ventures LLC, No. 17-00105, W.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111956).



Deficient Expert Witnesses Doom Storm Damage Claims, Judge Rules
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A Kentucky federal judge on Aug. 4 awarded an insurance company summary judgment on claims for additional coverage for storm damage after finding that the business owners' expert witness disclosures "were clearly deficient" and that even if they weren't, the experts' opinion are unreliable (Advanced Mechanical Services, Inc., et al. v. Auto-Owners Insurance Company, No. 3:14-cv-388, W.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123277).



Complete Diversity Of Citizenship Exists; Insured's Motion To Remand Denied
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on July 13 denied a motion to remand after determining that complete diversity of citizenship exists because the insurer's agent is not a proper defendant as the insured failed to state a claim against an insurer's agent for misrepresentation (Howard Johnson II v. Allstate Vehicle and Property Insurance Co., et al, No. 17-1206, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108530).



Federal Judge Dismisses All Claims Against Insurer In Texas Flood Coverage Dispute
SAN ANTONIO - A Texas federal judge held on July 19 that an insured's state law tort causes of action as to how her federal flood insurer handled her claim are preempted by federal law, further concluding that it is undisputed that the insured failed to file an adequate proof of loss to support her breach of contract claim against the insurer (Patricia Hernandez v. National Lloyds Insurance Co., No. 15-1008, W.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112567).



Fact Issues Exist As To Whether Insured Made Specific Request For Flood Insurance
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A New York appeals panel on June 30 found that there are triable issues of fact regarding whether an insured made a specific request for flood insurance coverage before an August 2009 flood that damaged its commercial food baking and production business operations, affirming a lower court (Petri Baking Products, Inc. v Hatch Leonard Naples, Inc., now known as First Niagara Risk Management, Inc., et al., No. 721 CA 16-02220, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 4th Dept., 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5463).



Full, Timely Payment Of Appraisal Award Leads To Dismissal Of Insurance Dispute
HOUSTON - Dismissal of an insured's insurance breach of contract claim against his insurer is proper because the insurer made a full and timely payment of benefits following the issuance of an appraisal award in a homeowners insurance dispute, a federal judge in Texas ruled July 14 in granting the insurer's motion for summary judgment and denying a summary judgment motion filed by the insured (Lee Losciale v. State Farm Lloyds, No. 17-0016, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109389).



Florida Panel: Fact Issues Exist As To Adjustment, Payment Of 'Actual Cash Value'
MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on July 12 reversed and remanded a lower court's ruling in favor of an insurer, finding that there are genuine issues of material fact as to the insurer's adjustment and payment of the "actual cash value" of the insured's alleged damage and as to the applicability of the policy's "wear and tear" exclusion "to a vague, unliquidated, and inchoate claim for damage to the roof itself" (Latonya Francis v. Tower Hill Prime Insurance Co., No. 3D16-2114, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 9982).



Judge: Agency Did Not Breach Contract In Dispute Over Hurricane Irene Damage
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A Connecticut judge on June 12 found that an insured did not establish that an insurance agency failed to procure sufficient flood insurance for the insured's properties that were damaged by Hurricane Irene, affirming a lower court's ruling (Pine Orchard Yacht and Country Club, Inc. v. Sinclair Insurance Group Inc., No. 126032519, Conn. Super., New Haven Jud. Dist., 2017 Conn. Super. LEXIS 3615).



Insured Reaches Settlement With Insurer, Reinsurer In Business Interruption Suit
PITTSBURGH - A glass manufacturer insured, an insurer and a reinsurer have agreed to settle a coverage dispute over property damage and business interruption losses arising from the insured's equipment breakdown, according to a Pennsylvania federal judge's June 7 order (Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co., et al. v. International Glass Products LLC, et al., No. 08-1564, W.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135045).



Panel Partly Reverses Ruling In Coverage Suit Over Food Co.'s Snowstorm Claim
ST. LOUIS - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 11 reversed and vacated a lower court's award of prejudgment interest to a family-owned poultry and pet food company insured because the jury had to exercise discretion in determining the insured's losses from snowstorm damage but affirmed the lower court's denial of both the insurers' motion to dismiss and the insured's request for statutory damages and attorney fees (Simmons Foods, Inc. v. Industrial Risk Insurers, et al., Nos. 15-3755 and 15-3845, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12350).



5th Circuit Affirms Judgment In Favor Of Insurer, Government In Hurricane Ike Suit
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 5 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling in favor of an insurer and the United States of America in a lawsuit 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 Company, et al., No. 16- 41165, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12008).



Majority: Evidentiary Support Exists For Extracontractual, Punitive Damages Claims
JACKSON, Miss. - A majority of the Mississippi Court of Appeals on June 27 found that it was reversible error for a circuit court to grant a homeowners insurer's motion for partial summary judgment and dismiss its insureds' claims for punitive and extracontractual damages before trial (The Estate of Sylvia F. Minor and Paul S. Minor v. United Services Automobile Association, No. 2014-00372, Miss. App., 2017 Miss. App. LEXIS 386).



Panel: Court Did Not Err In Granting State's Exception Of No Right Of Action
NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana appeals panel on June 14 affirmed a lower court's ruling that granted the State of Louisiana's exception of no right of action maintaining that it was not liable for a contractor's alleged negligence in elevating the insureds' home following Hurricane Katrina, rejecting the homeowners insurer's argument that the state's administration of the elevation program sufficiently negated the exception of no right of action (Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., v. LAA Shoring, et al., No. 2016-CA-1136 consolidated with No. 2016-CA-1137, La. App., 4th Cir.).



Magistrate: Flood Exclusion Bars Coverage For Chocolate Maker's Sandy Damage
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - A New York federal magistrate judge held June 30 that a chocolate manufacturer insured's claimed damage was indisputably caused by "storm surge" or "storm tide" associated with Superstorm Sandy and, therefore, that coverage is barred by its insurance policy's flood exclusion, recommending that the insurer's motion for summary judgment be granted (Madelaine Chocolate Novelties, Inc. d/b/a The Madelaine Chocolate Co. v. Great Northern Insurance Co., No. 15-5830, E.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103015).



Federal Judge Finds Insured Failed To Comply With SFIP Requirements
CAMDEN, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on June 30 granted a federal flood insurer's motion for summary judgment and denied an insured's cross-motion in a coverage dispute arising from Superstorm Sandy damage (Brian R. McDowell, Plaintiff, v. USAA General Indemnity Co., No. 14-4529, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101978).



9th Circuit: Dispute Over Phrase 'Direct Supplier' Is Question Of Fact For Jury
PASADENA, Calif. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 19 found that whether a manufacturer of hard-disk drives provided to a set-top box company was a direct supplier of a satellite television provider is a question of fact to be resolved by a jury, reversing and remanding a lower court's ruling in favor of an insurer in a business interruption coverage dispute arising from the Thailand flood (DirecTV v. Factory Mutual Insurance Co., No. 16-55313, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10787).



Judge Dismisses All But Breach Of Contract Claim In Suit Arising From Flood Damage
FORT WORTH, Texas - A Texas federal judge on June 8 granted an insurer's motion for judgment on the pleadings seeking dismissal of an insured's extracontractual claims in a flood coverage dispute, further exercising its discretion to dismiss the insured's declaratory judgment claim (Mike Farhat v. Texas Farmers Insurance Co., No. 16-1175, N.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87766).



Panel: Insured's Liability Expert Provided No Authority To Support His Opinion
TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey appeals panel on June 7 affirmed a lower court's ruling in favor of an insurer and an insurance agency in an insured's negligence and professional malpractice lawsuit arising from Hurricane Irene damage, finding that the insured's liability expert was properly excluded because he offered no authority to support his opinion (Satec Inc., et al. v. The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc., et al., No. A-5103-14T4, N.J. Super., App. Div., 2017 N.J. Super. LEXIS 68).



Panel Vacates Dismissal Of Insurance Claims, Affirms Dismissal Of Indemnity Claims
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 21 found that a lower court erred in dismissing insurance claims in a dispute over coverage for a maritime collision in the Gulf of Mexico, vacating the lower court in part and remanding for the court to review the insurance policies and determine their scope (International Marine, L.L.C., et al. v. Integrity Fisheries, Incorporated, et al., No. 16-30456, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11041).



California Panel Affirms No Coverage For Dentist's Claim For Lost Practice Income
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A California appeals panel on June 13 affirmed a lower court's ruling in favor of an insurer in a dispute over coverage for an individual dentist's claim for lost dental practice income due to a sewage backup (William A. Gilbert v. The Dentists Insurance Company, Inc., No. C075959, Calif. App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4041).



Texas High Court Deems Hailstorm MDL Attorney Fee Info Protected As Work Product
AUSTIN, Texas - A Texas Supreme Court majority on June 9 granted an insurer's petition for mandamus in a discovery dispute, finding that a trial court and an appeals court abused their discretion by granting a group of insured's request for billing records from other cases in the same multidistrict litigation because such records are protected from discovery as work product (In Re National Lloyds Insurance Co., Wardlaw Claims Service Inc. and Ideal Adjusting Inc., No. 15-0591, Texas Sup., 2017 Tex. LEXIS 522).



Poor Methods Doom Opinions On Storm Wind Speed, Magistrate Judge Rules
WACO, Texas - A Texas federal judge on June 28 excluded testimony from two experts based on opinions of a third, undisclosed expert in a property damage insurance coverage dispute after finding that the opinions of the third expert regarding wind speed during a storm are unreliable due to flawed methodology (Spring Street Apts. Waco, LLC v. Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company, No. 6:16-cv-00315, W.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99890).



Texas Federal Judge Grants Insured's Motion To Remand, Dismisses Adjuster From Suit
SHERMAN, Texas - A Texas federal judge on June 20 adopted a magistrate judge's recommendation that an insured's motion to remand be denied because complete diversity of citizenship exists as the insured's complaint does not specifically allege any claims against the insurer's adjuster, who also is a resident of Texas (Max Wang v. Safeco Insurance Company of Indiana, et al., No. 17-158, E.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94255).



Insurance Adjuster Not Properly Joined In Bad Faith Suit, Judge Rules
DALLAS - Remand of an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit is not proper because an insurance adjuster was improperly joined in the litigation, a federal judge in Texas ruled June 1 (Jesus Gutierrez v. Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-0636, N.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84253).



Federal Judge Won't Dismiss Insurer From Bad Faith Suit Over Storm Damage Claim
TULSA, Okla. - A federal judge in Oklahoma on June 13 denied an insurer's motion to dismiss in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, rejecting the insurer's claim that, at this time, it is not a party to the insurance contract at issue (Ranchers Pipe & Steel Corp. v. Ohio Security Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-0192, N.D. Okla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90278).



Louisiana Panel Lowers Statutory Penalties Award, Vacates Attorney Fees Award
GRETNA, La. - A Louisiana appeals panel on May 31 decreased a lower court's award of bad faith penalties against an insurer from $32,162.46 to $8,040.61 in a Hurricane Isaac coverage dispute and vacated the lower court's $12,864.98 attorney fees award in favor of the insured (Mary Williams v. Security Plan Fire Insurance Co., No. 16-CA-714, La. App., 5th Cir., 2017 La. App. LEXIS 1004).



Expert Testimony Gets In Due To Missed Deadline, Mississippi Federal Judge Rules
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - A Mississippi federal judge on May 15 rejected competing requests to exclude evidence and testimony in an insurance coverage dispute over storm property damage claims, allowing two experts to testify for the property owner and saying laypersons can testify about the period of restoration for the property and the owner's loss of income (Corinthian Court Holdings, LLC v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., Nos. 2:15-cv-111, 2:16-cv-18, S.D. Miss., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73395).



'Proportionality Is The Polestar,' Says Texas High Court In Discovery Dispute
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Supreme Court on May 26 found that neither an insurer nor its insureds have a unilateral right to specify the format of discovery under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 196.4, Texas R. Civ. P. 196.4, denying the insurer's request for mandamus relief without prejudice in a dispute over the discovery submission form for electronically stored information (ESI) (In re State Farm Lloyds, Nos. 15-0903 and 15-0905, Texas Sup., 2017 Tex. LEXIS 482).



Insured May Be Able To Recover Against Adjuster In Bad Faith Suit, Judge Rules
DALLAS - A federal judge in Texas on May 10 ruled that remand of an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit to state court is warranted because an insured has shown that it may recover against the adjuster for failing to offer a fair settlement on a commercial property insurance claim (Arlington Heights Memorial Post No. 8234 Veterans Of Foreign Wars of the United States, Fort Worth, Texas, v. Covington Specialty Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-3112, N.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71125).



Policy Limits Flood Coverage To $1M, Majority Says In Superstorm Sandy Dispute
TRENTON, N.J. - A majority of the Supreme Court of New Jersey on May 25 reversed an appeals court's ruling that held that an insured is owed $207,961.28 for debris removal in addition to $1 million in flood coverage under a surplus lines insurance policy, reinstating a lower court's partial summary judgment ruling in favor of the insurer in a Superstorm Sandy coverage dispute (Oxford Realty Group Cedar v. Travelers Excess and Surplus Lines Co., No. A-85-15, 077617, N.J. Sup., 2017 N.J. LEXIS 570).



Federal Judge Terminates Breach Of Contract Suit Arising From Superstorm Sandy
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on May 31 issued a 90-day order administratively terminating an insured's breach of contract lawsuit stemming from Superstorm Sandy damage after the insured and the insurer announced that they reached a tentative settlement (Thomas Tennis v. Selective Insurance Company of America, No. 15-5801, D. N.J.).



Insureds Challenge Choice Of New York Law In Superstorm Sandy Coverage Dispute
PHILADELPHIA - Insureds have asked the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a lower federal court's ruling that granted an insurer's motion to compel arbitration in their breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit arising from Superstorm Sandy damage, arguing that New Jersey law applies (Fin Associates, et al. v. Hudson Specialty Ins. Co., 16-3541, 3rd Cir.).



Judge Dismisses Suit Against Insurers, Mortgagee Arising From 2 Lightning Strikes
NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana federal judge on May 24 granted insurers and mortgagee's motions to dismiss a coverage dispute arising from two lightning strikes and a power surge (Robin Guthrie Brown and Michelle Guthrie Brown v. American Modern Home Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-16289, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80057).



Judge Rejects 2 Equitable Apportionment Methods In Dispute Over 'Moonlight Fire'
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A California federal judge on May 22 found that neither the "policy limits" approach nor the "relative fault" analysis is an appropriate equitable apportionment method in a coverage dispute arising from damage caused by the September 2007 "Moonlight Fire" in California (American States Insurance Co. v. Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, No. 12-01489, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79103).



Justice Stays Hurricane Coverage Suit Pending Insurer's Rehabilitation
NEW YORK - A New York trial justice on May 17 stayed an insured's coverage action against its insurer over damages from Hurricane Irene pursuant to a rehabilitation order against the insurer (25 Bay Terrace Associates, L.P., v. Public Service Mutual Insurance Co., No. 150345/2013, N.Y. Sup., Richmond Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 1822).



Adjuster Was Improperly Joined To Coverage Dispute Over Storm Damage, Judge Says
SHERMAN, Texas - A Texas federal judge on May 16 denied insureds' motion to remand their breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit arising from storm damage, finding that they failed to allege a claim that is plausible on its face against an insurance adjuster (Hidden Cove Park and Marina, et al. v. Lexington Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-00193, E.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74097).



Panel Orders FIGA To Pay Actual Repair Costs Up To Combined Statutory Cap
LAKELAND, Fla. - On remand, a trial judge should enter a corrected judgment to show that an insured must contract for repairs within damages awarded by a jury and that the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) is required to pay actual repair costs to the contractors up to the combined statutory cap, a Florida appeals panel ruled May 12 (Maria Pupo v. Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, No. 2D15-3901, Fla. App., 2nd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 6775).