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Headline Catastrophic Loss Legal News from LexisNexis®



 



8th Circuit Grants Insurer's Petition In Venue Dispute Over Hailstorm Coverage Suit
ST. LOUIS - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 6 granted a homeowners insurer's petition for a writ of mandamus seeking a venue transfer of the insured's breach of contract lawsuit arising from hail damage, vacating the lower court's denial of the insurer's motion to transfer venue and remanding (In re: Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Co., No. 16-3243, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 19535).



Panel: Method Of Calculating Estimated 'Actual Cash Value' Does Not Breach Contract
ST. LOUIS - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court Appeals on Sept. 25 found that a homeowners insurer's method of determining an insured's estimated "actual cash value" does not breach its replacement cost contract, further finding there is no basis to certify a class of insureds who incurred "unique, individual covered losses" and no basis to sustain a special master's "burdensome classwide discovery orders" in a hailstorm coverage dispute (In re: State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, Nos. 16-3185 and 16-3562, 8th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 18457).



Texas High Court Refuses To Revisit Take-Nothing Judgment In Hailstorm Coverage Suit
AUSTIN, Texas - According to its Sept. 22 pronounced orders, the Texas Supreme Court refused to disturb a lower court's finding that a church insured take nothing on its breach of contract, bad faith and conspiracy allegations against its insurer and a claims adjuster in a dispute over coverage for hailstorm damage to the roofs of two of its buildings (Richardson East Baptist Church v. Philadelphia Insurance Company, et al., No. 16-0347, Texas Sup.).



Bifurcation Is Not Warranted In Property Damage Coverage Dispute, Federal Judge Says
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - A New Mexico federal judge on Sept. 26 denied a motion to bifurcate and stay discovery of the extracontractual claims at issue in a property damage coverage dispute because bifurcation would prolong the case and the insurer would not be prejudiced if the claims were tried together (Welcome Properties 201 LLC v. National Fire & Marine Insurance Co., No. 16-1301, D. N.M., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157541).



Federal Judge Refuses To Dismiss Diminished Value Suit Arising From Hail/Wind Damage
MACON, Ga. - A Georgia federal judge on Sept. 15 denied a homeowners insurer's motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that it committed breach of contract by refusing to assess and pay for the diminished value of the insureds' home caused by wind and/or hail damage (Tonya Long v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., No. 17-28, M.D. Ga., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149594).



State Farm Defends Motion To Compel Discovery For Computer Fraud Claims
GULFPORT, Miss. - In an Oct. 2 rebuttal brief supporting its motion to compel discovery related to its computer fraud counterclaims in a decade-old false claims suit related to Hurricane Katrina claims, State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. calls its discovery requests "straightforward," while arguing that the counterdefendants failed to show that the requests are burdensome or cover privileged material (United States, ex rel. Cori Rigsby, et al. v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., No. 1:06-cv-00433, S.D. Miss.).



Illinois Federal Judge Decides Admissible Evidence In Bad Faith Coverage Dispute
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on Sept. 27 determined that an insured's claims for punitive damages and attorney fees should be withheld from a jury but that evidence related to how long the insurer took to process the insured's claim is relevant for the jury to hear as it pertains to the insured's claim for bad faith arising out of a dispute for lost business property and income caused by the contamination of the insured's property and business with lead dust (Jordan Mozer & Associates Ltd. v . General Casualty Company of Wisconsin, No. 14-10264, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159518).



Fee Arrangement Exclusion Bars Coverage, New York Justice Rules
NEW YORK - A New York justice on Sept. 18 granted insurers' motions for summary judgment in a dispute over coverage for the insureds' purported participation in kickback schemes involving force-placed insurance, finding that the fee arrangement (FA) exclusion bars coverage and that the legal costs sought by the insureds are not covered losses (QBE Americas, Inc., et al. Ace American Insurance Company, et al., No. 653442/2013, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 3543).



Judge: Wind Endorsement Does Not Alter Unambiguous Language That Bars Flood Coverage
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Sept. 26 agreed with a magistrate's report that found that an insurance policy unambiguously excluded coverage for the damage floodwaters caused to a facility as a result of Superstorm Sandy, adopting the magistrate's report and recommendation in its entirety (Madelaine Chocolate Novelties, d/b/a The Madelaine Chocolate Co. v. Great Northern Insurance Co., No. 15-5830, E.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157821).



New Jersey Judge: $100M Flood Sublimit Does Not Apply In Superstorm Sandy Dispute
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey judge held Aug. 24 that a $100 million flood sublimit does not apply to an insured's water damages that were caused by the named windstorm Superstorm Sandy, ruling against excess insurers (New Jersey Transit Corp. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London, et al., No. ESX-L-006977-14, N.J. Super., Essex Co., Law Div.).



Magistrate Administratively Terminates Superstorm Sandy Suit After Parties Settle
CAMDEN, N.J. - A New Jersey federal magistrate judge recently issued an order administratively terminating an insured's breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit against a federal flood insurer arising from Superstorm Sandy damage after the parties announced that they reached a settlement (Brian R. McDowell, Plaintiff, v. USAA General Indemnity Co., No. 14-4529, D. N.J.).



Judge Dismisses Superstorm Sandy Suit After Parties Announce Tentative Settlement
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge recently signed an insured's and an insurer's stipulation to dismiss the insured's breach of contract lawsuit stemming from Superstorm Sandy damage after the parties announced that they reached a tentative settlement (Thomas Tennis v. Selective Insurance Company of America, No. 15-5801, D. N.J.).



Insured Challenges 1-Year Statute Of Limitations In Superstorm Sandy Dispute
PHILADELPHIA - An insured has asked the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a lower court's finding that a federal flood insurer's letter rejecting its insured's proof of loss for Superstorm Sandy damage constituted a written denial of the claim and, therefore, triggered a Standard Flood Insurance Policy's (SFIP) one-year statute of limitations to bring a lawsuit (Anthony Migliaro v. Fidelity National Indemnity Ins. Co., No. 17-1434, 3rd Cir.).



Texas Homeowners Sue River Authority For Flooding Days After Hurricane Harvey
HOUSTON - The San Jacinto River Authority mishandled the "controlled release" of water from Lake Conroe following Hurricane Harvey, resulting in the flooding of thousands of homes and businesses, a Harris County, Texas, couple allege in their class complaint filed Sept. 6 in the Harris County District Court (Thomas E. and Beth F. Ross v. San Jacinto River Authority, No. 2017-58385, Texas Dist., Harris Co.).



Panel: No Evidence To Support Finding That Tenant Is Third- Party Beneficiary To Lease
ST. PAUL, Minn. - A Minnesota appeals panel on Sept. 5 reversed in part a lower court's ruling in favor of a tenant in a commercial landlord insurer's subrogation lawsuit arising from a flood that damaged the tenant's restaurant (North Star Mutual Insurance Co. v. Al Juan Huang, et al., No. A17-0216, Minn. App., 2017 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 796).



Insurer Owes No Coverage For Water Damage From Leaking Roof, Judge Says
MOBILE, Ala. - An Alabama federal judge on Sept. 6 held that a building owner insured has failed to satisfy its burden of establishing that an exception to a deluxe property policy's rain limitation applies, concluding that neither the property policy nor a commercial general liability insurance policy covers the insured's damages arising from a roof leak caused by 2.43 inches of rain (Travelers Property Casualty Company of America v. Brookwood, LLC, No. 15-01016, N.D. Ala., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143894).



Kansas Federal Judge Allows Insured To Add Breach Of Contract, Bad Faith Claims
WICHITA, Kan. - An insured seeking coverage for hailstorm damage to two commercial buildings is permitted to amend its complaint to add claims for breach of contract and bad faith because the addition of the claims would not be futile and the insurers will not be prejudiced as a result of the amendment, a Kansas federal judge said Sept. 8 (Flex Financial Holding Co. v. OneBeacon Insurance Group LLC et al., No. 15-7205, D. Kan., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145349).



Florida Panel Affirms Judgment, Corrects Order In Sinkhole Coverage Dispute
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.- A Florida appeals panel on Sept. 1 affirmed a lower court's final judgment but remanded with instructions to enter a corrected order reflecting that when the insured provides his homeowners insurer with a signed contract to complete the necessary subsurface repairs, the insurer shall pay that amount instead of tendering the policy limits (Joseph Ringelman v. Citizens Property Insurance Corp., No. 5D16-260, Fla. App., 5th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 12567).



Florida Panel Reverses Ruling In Insurer's Favor In Sinkhole Coverage Dispute
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel held Aug. 23 that because an insurer denied coverage for the insureds' claim for sinkhole damage, a lower court erred in finding that the insureds' failure to comply with the policy's conditions precluded them from filing suit (Juan Castro, et al. v. Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty Insurance Co., No. 2D15-5456, Fla. App., 2nd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 11979).



Florida Majority Reverses Ruling In Bad Faith Suit Over Sinkhole Damage
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A majority of a Florida appeals panel on Aug. 11 held that no Florida statute or case law precludes an insured from filing a civil remedy notice (CRN) while a demand for appraisal is outstanding, reversing and remanding a lower court's ruling in favor of the insurer in a bad faith lawsuit arising from the insured's claim for sinkhole damage (Phillip Landers v. State Farm Florida Insurance Co., No. 5D15-4032, Fla. App., 5th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 11543).



Judge: Claimants Failed To Show Insurer Erred In Deeming Residence A 'Basement'
NEWARK, N.J. - Granting summary judgment in favor of a federal flood insurer in a Superstorm Sandy coverage dispute, a New Jersey federal judge held Aug. 30 that claimants have failed to establish that a condominium unit is at or above ground level on any side (Trinova Garden Street Condominium Association, Inc., et al. v. Wright National Flood Insurance Company, No. 15-4195, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142188).



Judge Denies Recusal Motions In Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene Coverage Dispute
TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on Aug. 30 denied insureds' motions to recuse a judge and a magistrate from their lawsuit seeking recovery for losses arising from Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, finding the recusal motions untimely (Robert Jacobsen, et al. v. Hartford Insurance Company Flood & Home, et al., Nos. 14-3094, 13-6910 and 13-7160, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139848).



Federal Judge Denies Motion To Disqualify Insured's Counsel In Superstorm Sandy Suit
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on Aug. 17 refused to disqualify an insured's counsel in a lawsuit arising from Superstorm Sandy damage, finding that the defendants failed to show that there was an implied attorney-client relationship between the attorney and one of the defendants (The Residences at Bay Point Condominium Assoc., Inc. v. Chernoff Diamond & Co., LLC, et. al., No. 16-5190, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131332).



New York Insured Sues FEMA, Administrators, Insurer In Superstorm Sandy Dispute
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - An insured sued the Federal Emergency Management Agency, its administrators and Wright National Flood Insurance Co. on Aug. 17 in a New York federal court, alleging that he was wrongfully denied $141,274.50 in insurance proceeds for Superstorm Sandy damage to his Long Beach, N.Y., home (David Clutter v. William B. Long, et al., No. 17-4833, E.D. N.Y.).



Judge: Second-Level Excess Insurer Has No Duty To Defend Against Landslide Suits
SEATTLE - A Washington federal judge on Aug. 21 found that a second-level excess insurer has no duty to defend its county insured against underlying lawsuits arising from a March 2014 landslide, three days after finding that the first-level excess insurer has a duty to defend, concluding that the second-level excess insurer's duty is not triggered until the insured's self-insured retention and first-layer excess coverage have been exhausted (Snohomish County v. Allied World National Assurance Co., et al., No. 16-63, W.D. Wash.).



Panel Affirms Ruling In Excess Insurer's Favor In Dispute Over Hotel Damage
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on Aug. 16 found that an excess insurance policy is unambiguous and not illusory, affirming a lower court's ruling in favor of the insurer in a breach of contract lawsuit over damage to the insured's New Orleans hotel (The Warwick Corporation, et al. v. Matthew Turetsky, et al., No. 4D16-2567, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 11792).



Federal Judge Dismisses Coverage Dispute Over Damage To Texas Motel
DALLAS - A Texas federal judge on Aug. 15 granted an insured's motion to dismiss its commercial insurer's declaratory judgment lawsuit disputing coverage for alleged storm damage to the insured's motel, finding that the majority of the factors in Brillhart v. Excess Ins. Co. of Am., 316 U.S. 491, 495, 62 S. Ct. 1173, 86 L. Ed. 1620 (1942), weigh in favor of dismissal (GuideOne National Insurance Company v. Bhav Harri, LLC, No. 16-00740, N.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129473).



Arizona Federal Judge Denies Motion To Remand Insured's Bad Faith Suit
PHOENIX - An Arizona federal judge on Aug. 4 denied an insured's motion to remand after determining that the insurer has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds the federal jurisdictional minimum of $75,000 (Ziva Hoarau v. Safeco Insurance Company of America, No. 17-1594, D. Ariz., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123059).



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).