After reading Judge Senter’s latest Order in a Katrina claims dispute, I just had to know more about the case – but first his Order as he makes his position on motions for summary judgment very clear.
The only motion before the Court in this cause of action, Defendant’s  Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, is straightforward and aimed at Plaintiff’s claims for punitive damages and extra-contractual damages. Under the standards of Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, the request for relief is not well taken at this time.
The gravamens of Plaintiff’s allegations are that Defendant failed to conduct an adequate investigation of damage to his home caused by Hurricane Katrina and that Defendant delayed payment of covered losses. After a thorough review of the record, the Court is not in a position to say that there are no genuine issues of material fact justifying judgment as a matter of law on the issues of punitive and extra-contractual damages.
Plaintiff has come forward with sufficient evidence to warrant further consideration of the alleged delay in the payment of benefits eventually made, as well as the overall handling of the claim. Defendant’s adoption of the mantra that Plaintiff accepted full benefits under his flood policy does not foreclose damage from a covered loss, especially when Defendant “concedes that its subsequent investigation uncovered some separate and independent wind damage.”
This “subsequent investigation” led to the tender of $25,742.00 in policy benefits after Plaintiff retained a lawyer and litigation had been instituted. See generally Broussard v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., 523 F.3d 618 (5th Cir. 2008)…
Furthermore, as the Court has stated numerous times, it is difficult to envision a breach of an insurance contract suit without consideration of the manner in which the claim was handled. This would be the case even if punitive or extra-contractual damages were not sought. Therefore, Plaintiff will be allowed to introduce evidence in the initial phase concerning the handling of the claim by Defendant (keeping in mind that the Court will instruct the jury on the applicable law).
Not a clue about the case anywhere in Order and I wanted to know what evidence the plaintiff was going to introduce about State Farm’s handling of the Katrina damage claim.
Eventually I learned, as you will see – and, I promise you’re going to want too – so hang around! Continue reading “Water, water, everywhere – except Judge Senter’s Order”