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Headline Catastrophic Loss Legal News from LexisNexis®



 



Insured's Suit Against Adjuster In Hurricane Ike Coverage Dispute Is Untimely
GALVESTON, Texas - A Texas federal judge on Dec. 5 found that an insured's breach of contract and negligence lawsuit against an adjuster is time-barred by a two-year statute of limitations, granting the adjuster's motion for summary judgment in Hurricane Ike coverage dispute (Gracie Reese v. Aftermath Public Adjusters, Inc., et al., No. 16-273, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 199527).



Judge Allows Subpoena Of Insurer's Consultants In Windstorm Coverage Dispute
SEATTLE - Finding insufficient support for an insurer's claim that its consultants were engaged in advance of possible insurance fraud litigation, a Washington federal judge on Dec. 5 denied the insurer's motion to quash subpoenas served on them by the plaintiff in a coverage suit related to extreme weather events (Premier Harvest LLC, et al. v. AXIS Surplus Insurance Co., et al., No. 2:17-cv-00784, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 199910).



Judge Stays Class Action Challenging Insurance Practices After Settlement Announced
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A Missouri federal judge in a Nov. 29 text order granted a joint motion to stay 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 after the parties announced that they reached a settlement (Jean Heckmann v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., No. 14-04147, W.D. Mo.).



No Homeowners Coverage Owed For Flood Damage, Federal Judge Says
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on Nov. 27 granted a homeowners insurer's motion for partial summary judgment in an insured's breach of contract lawsuit seeking coverage for flood damage caused by a May 2015 storm in Houston, finding that the policy excluded flood damage from coverage (Ali Ekhlassi v. National Lloyds Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-1257, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 194467).



Insurer Did Not Act In Bad Faith By Only Paying For A Portion Of Floor Replacement
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Nov. 15 dismissed a bad faith claim alleged against a homeowners insurer after determining that the insureds failed to prove that the insurer acted unreasonably by paying for only a portion of the insureds' kitchen floor following a flood at the insureds' home (Steven Barnwell et al. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., No. 16-4739, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188427).



Federal Judge: Flood Did Not Become Excluded Peril Once Sublimits Were Exhausted
SHERMAN, Texas - A Texas federal judge on Nov. 9 granted insureds' motion for partial summary judgment in their breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit arising from storm damage, finding that the insurer remains liable for any damages caused by pure wind and the combination of wind and flood if such damages are proven by the insureds (Hidden Cove Park and Marina, et al. v. Lexington Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-00193, E.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186191).



Magistrate Judge Recommends Denial Of Reinsurance Claims In 9/11 Insurance Dispute
NEW YORK - In a dispute over claims stemming from the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, a New York federal magistrate judge on Nov. 27 recommended that insurers be awarded $221.5 million but that their claims arising out of reinsurance contracts be denied (In re: Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001, No. 03-MDL-1570, Continental Casualty Co. v. Al Qaeda Islamic Army, No. 04-5970, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 196192).



Insurer Must Cover Damage By Wind, Not Construction Defects, Appeals Panel Says
DETROIT - An insurer is responsible to cover damage from wind-driven rain to condominium units but is not responsible for damage caused by construction defects, a Michigan appeals panel held Nov. 16, reversing summary disposition to the insurer (Walters Beach Condominium Association v. Home-Owners Insurance Co., No. 335172, Mich. App., 2017 Mich. App. LEXIS 1810).



3rd Circuit Affirms Ruling In Favor Of Insurer In Superstorm Sandy Dispute
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 17 affirmed a district court's summary judgment ruling in favor of an insurer in a Superstorm Sandy coverage dispute after determining that the insurer fulfilled the requirements of accord and satisfaction when it sent its insureds a check representing payment for the insureds' losses (Anna Cranmer, et al. v. Harleysville Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-1596, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 23187).



Judge Enjoins Insureds From Removing Any Property From Storage Unit In Sandy Suit
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - A New York federal judge on Nov. 6 confirmed that an Oct. 23 court-ordered subpoena remains in effect to make a storage space in Brooklyn, N.Y., available to allow the inspection of the contents of several storage units maintained by insureds in a Superstorm Sandy coverage dispute and enjoined the insureds from removing any boxes or property from the storage units absent permission form the court (Robert Toussie v. Allstate Insurance Co., et al., Nos. 14-2705 and 15-5235, E.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183603).



Judge Allows Insured To Amend Petition To Properly Assert Insurer's Citizenship
BATON ROUGE, La. - A Louisiana federal magistrate judge on Nov. 2 allowed an insured to amend her complaint to adequately allege a flood insurer's citizenship in her breach of contract lawsuit arising from flood damage (Sarah Faye Carrier v. Lexington Insurance Co., No. 17-1543, M.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182386).



Judge: New York Insureds Failed To Submit Timely Proof Of Loss In Flood Dispute
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A New York federal judge on Oct. 23 granted a federal flood insurer's motion for summary judgment in a flood coverage dispute, finding that the insureds failed to timely submit a signed and sworn proof of loss for all their alleged damages caused by a June 1, 2015, flood (John Scharr, et al. v. Selective Insurance Company of New York, et al., No. 16-06821, W.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175222).



Judge: Negligence Per Se Claim, Attorney Fees Request Are Preempted By NFIA, NFIP
PORTLAND, Ore. - An Oregon federal judge on Oct. 16 granted insurers' motion to dismiss an insured's negligence per se claim and request for attorney fees in a coverage dispute over damage to hotel rooms caused by tidal waters, finding the claims preempted by the National Flood Insurance Act (NFIA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) (Surfsand Resort LLC v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company, et al., No. 17-00866, D. Ore., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171548).



Motion To Alter Is Untimely, Federal Judge Rules In Dispute Over Flood Damage
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - For the second time in less than one month, an Alabama federal judge on Oct. 11 denied an insured's motion to alter or amend an earlier judgment that found that a federal flood insurer does not owe coverage for the insured's claim for land and relocation damages arising from a heavy rain that caused a local river to flood (Crawford Nixon v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., No. 15-00186, N.D. Ala., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167866).



New York Justice: Insurers Not Entitled To 2nd Proof Of Loss In Superstorm Sandy Suit
NEW YORK - A New York justice on Oct.22 denied two insurers' request for an order compelling an insured to provide them with a signed and sworn proof of loss (POL) detailing Superstorm Sandy property damage because the insured has already provided them with a signed and sworn POL (The Howard Hughes Corporation v. Ace American Insurance Co., et al., No. 650308/15, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2015 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 5261).



New York Justice: Fact Issues Remain In Superstorm Sandy Flood Coverage Dispute
NEW YORK - Ruling on an insured's motion for summary judgment, a New York justice on Oct. 10 held that fact issues remain in a Superstorm Sandy excess flood coverage dispute (Great American Insurance Company of New York v. L. Knife & Son Inc., et al., Index No. 157164/13, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 3888).



Panel Reverses Ruling As To Excess Coverage In Dispute Arising From Forest Fire
WAUSAU, Wis. - A Wisconsin appeals panel on Oct. 11 affirmed a lower court's ruling that a commercial general liability insurance policy's $2 million aggregate limit applied in a coverage dispute over a forest fire that burned thousands of acres of land, but reversed and remanded for a factual determination on the issue of damages relevant to coverage under the logging company's umbrella insurance policy (Secura Insurance v. Lyme St. Croix Forest Company, LLC, et al., No. 2016AP299, Wis. App., Div. 3, 2017 Wisc. App. LEXIS 791).



Florida Panel Reverses Hurricane Wilma Coverage Suit For 2nd Time
MIAMI - After previously reversing a lower court's ruling in favor of a homeowner in a Hurricane Wilma coverage dispute, a Florida appeals panel on Oct. 18 reversed the lower court's ruling on remand in favor of the insurer, finding that a genuine issue of material fact remains regarding whether a letter from the insurer constituted a denial of coverage (Haim Michel Ifergane, Appellant, vs. Citizens Property Insurance Corp., No. 3D16-1142, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 14745).



Florida Panel Reverses Dismissal Of Bad Faith Suit In Hurricane Wilma Dispute
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on Oct. 18 found that a bad faith lawsuit should not have been dismissed because the record undisputedly establishes that an insurer received an insured's civil remedies notice (CRN) in a Hurricane Wilma coverage dispute nearly four years before the insured filed its bad faith suit and responded to the CRN without challenging its service (Evergreen Lakes HOA, Inc. v. Lloyd's Underwriters at London, No. 4D16-2657, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 14833).



Florida High Court Accepts Appeal Of Court's Refusal To Conduct New Appraisal
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on Oct. 20 accepted an appeal of an appellate decision finding that an insured's post-appraisal submission of increased costs with a state insurance guaranty association in a Hurricane Wilma coverage dispute is not a legally sufficient basis to reopen the existing appraisal or conduct a new appraisal (Orlando Noa v. Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, No. SC17-738, Fla. Sup., 2017 Fla. LEXIS 2124).



Federal Judge: No Evidence Insured's Race Prompted Insurer's Coverage Decisions
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - An Arkansas federal judge on Oct. 27 dismissed with prejudice an insured's 42 U.S. Code Section 1981 claim against his insurer, finding that there was no evidence that the insured's race prompted the insurer's coverage decisions regarding damage caused by two storms (Kasib Tauheed Bilal v. IDS Property & Casualty Insurance Co., No. 16-675, E.D. Ark., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178317).



Bad Faith Claim Survives Dismissal In Homeowners Insurance Dispute
OKLAHOMA CITY - Insureds have pleaded minimally sufficient facts to support their insurance bad faith claim against their homeowners insurance provider for its alleged failure to properly investigation their claim and provide coverage under the policy, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Oct. 24 in denying the insurer's motion to dismiss the bad faith claim (Daniel E. Lang, et al. v. Farmers Insurance Co. Inc., No. 17-0919, W.D. Okla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175858).



Insurance Adjuster Improperly Joined In Bad Faith Suit, Judge Rules
FORT WORTH, Texas - Remand of an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit to state court is not necessary because insureds improperly joined an insurance adjuster in an attempt to defeat federal court jurisdiction, a federal judge in Texas ruled Oct. 27 in denying the insureds' motion (Cheryl Fernandez, et al. v. Allstate Texas Lloyds, et al., No. 17-729, N.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178273).



Judge Transfers Hurricane Matthew Coverage Dispute To New Federal Venue
MIAMI - A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Oct. 18 granted insurers' alternative motion to transfer a coverage dispute arising from Hurricane Matthew damage, finding that the Middle District of Florida is the proper venue because that is where the insureds' property is located (Flash Restoration LLC v. Rockhill Insurance Company, et al., No. 17-23416, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173319).



Bad Faith Suit Over Property Insurance Claim Remanded To State Court
OXFORD, Miss. - Remand of an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit to state court is proper because an insured has shown that the amount in controversy in the action will not exceed statutory limits, a federal judge in Mississippi ruled Oct. 17 in granting the insured's motion to remand (Strawberry Missionary Baptist Church v. Church Mutual Insurance Company Foundation Inc., No. 17-155, N.D. Miss., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171545).



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.).