Any U. S. Magistrate from South Texas to the Southern District of Alabama could have written this exact same Order and Opinion in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma and then Ike but discovery abuses were tolerated in the Fifth Circuit by and large. Cases were kneecapped out of the gate on the theory that money cases should settle and in the process bad faith claims handling was institutionalized under the law. Magistrate Gary Brown from the Eastern District of New York took a look at the case from a different angle and he came to a far different conclusion. Here is the salient verbiage:
The context remains important: according to the City of Long Beach, the losses here totaled approximately $205,000, while the testimony at trial suggested that the insurer has already paid out about $80,000. Pl’s Ex. 1. Thus, based on these rough figures, the most that could be at issue here amounted to approximately $125,000 and, based on the coverage limits of $250,000, no more than about $170,000 could be at stake. To a government-backed insurer, these are trifling figures, and in the world of federal cases, such figures are unimpressive, particularly when compared to the exorbitant costs of litigation. On the other hand, to individual homeowners, these are staggeringly large sums.
Before I present the 27 page Judicial beatdown of the National Flood Insurance Program and it’s lawyers over at Gerald Nielsen’s law firm, I’ll opine that what we have here is the tail wagging the dog. Magnum and his people over at Gauthier Houghtaling and Williams certainly expended a fortune to uncover the unsavory claims practices including the bullshit revised engineering reports insurers relied upon to deny coverage after Superstorm Sandy (and here on the coast after Hurricane Katrina) and they deserve props for the time, money and effort. Click the pic to nab the 27 page pdf: