Slicked and SLABBED – and just flat overwhelmed

Nowadays, the process of selecting a post topic is akin to a game of disaster roulette.  As a result, I was “slicked and slabbed” by “writer’s block” – the chief symptom of same, a growing file of drafts but no post.  Fortunately,  “writer’s block” is not contagious nor does it limit reading.  Thus, I begin my recovery with an update on issues I’ve been following:

Ivor van Heerden lost the second round of his fight to regain his position with LSU:

A federal judge scolded LSU late Thursday for not being “much more professional’’ in parting ways with Ivor van Heerden, but said the respected coastal researcher failed to show that LSU retaliated against him for openly blaming the U.S. government for the levee failures in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. District Judge James Brady’s refusal to issue a preliminary injunction in van Heerden’s lawsuit against LSU means van Heerden, who has worked at the school for more than 15 years, must clean out his office.

Van Heerden’s attorney, Jill Craft, had asked Brady to “require LSU to keep his position on the books.’’

Craft said she now will move for an expedited jury trial of van Heerden’s suit. Brady said he would entertain such a request. h/t New Orleans News Ladder

Chip Merlin’s Back on the Texas Ranch-Hurricane Litigation and Settlement Discussions are Raging brings us up to date on litigation following Hurricanes Dolly and Ike with news that “TWIA is in trouble”: Continue reading “Slicked and SLABBED – and just flat overwhelmed”

Another mess in Texas – lawsuit claims TWIA rigged process

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association used prices lower than market rates to estimate materials and repair costs, unfairly limited costs on roof repairs and discouraged reopening closed claims, a League City home-owner alleges in a lawsuit that includes internal TWIA e-mails and documents.

“The game is rigged from the beginning,” said Steve Mostyn, the homeowner’s attorney who obtained hundreds of documents through the discovery process. “All the parts are designed for one purpose, which was to save money and underpay these claims every way they can, not by accident nor incompetence but a systematic effort.”

Rigged from the beginning – surely not!  ( h/t observant reader and the Houston Chronicle Lawsuit says windstorm insurer rigged process)

The lawsuit alleges the insurer told adjusters to base claims estimates on an internally developed price guide — with prices lower than market — instead of pricing software commonly used by the industry.

One adjusting firm reported the market rate for roof repairs was $230 to $255 per 100 square feet, but TWIA’s price was $182, the lawsuit claims. In internal documents filed with the lawsuit, the association portrays its prices as just a guideline.

The game, as Mostyn called it,  sounds familiar, does it not?  There’s more: Continue reading “Another mess in Texas – lawsuit claims TWIA rigged process”

The best little whorehouse in Texas may have a leak in the roof

I have been involved in a lot of disputed property insurance claims in many venues over the past twenty-five years where emotions run high, but the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) is the blue ribbon winner in Texas for policyholders that hate how they have been treated. And, it is not just limited to the customers of TWIA. A number of independent adjusters representing TWIA are ready and willing whistleblowers in lawsuits against TWIA regarding these practices. They are upset as well.

FireShot capture #062 - 'insurance_pdf (application_pdf Object)' - images_chron_com_content_news_pdfs_09_09_11_insurance_pdfChip Merlin, who blew the cover off roof damage in Texas last March, has been reporting more about TWIA’s handling of claims from Hurricane Ike. Sop caught up with Chip in the Houston Chronicle story reported in his recent post And the beat does go on, as in the beat down of the taxpayers and the NFIP by shady insurers.

Although you Don’t Mess with Texas, apparently there is no problem with TWIA making a mess out of Texas Continue reading “The best little whorehouse in Texas may have a leak in the roof”

…and a dim bulb flickered in Texas over at TWIA

While Commission Chaney had all the bright lights of insurance and finance shinning in Mississippi, a dim bulb flickered in the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), according to Texas’ oldest newspaper, the Galveston County Daily News:  h/t  always thoughtful reader

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association wants a judge to give it immunity against paying attorneys’ fees, penalties, interests and other expenses beyond actual damages in litigation claiming it acted in bad faith or maliciously in dealings with policyholders.

In Bakht Khattak vs. Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, the insurer is seeking sovereign immunity, which means it can’t be sued without its consent.

If Judge Susan Criss of the 212th District Court in Galveston grants sovereign immunity in that case, her decision could apply to any lawsuit filed against the insurer since Hurricane Ike, which struck in September with 110 mph winds and devastating storm surge.

About all that can be said for this TWIA flicker is that it would require a lot less time and money than hiring lawyers to sneak around and get all the evidence against you classified a “trade secret”.

The windstorm association isn’t seeking dismissal of the lawsuit or others like it, officials said….

What the association’s attorneys at a Monday hearing asked Continue reading “…and a dim bulb flickered in Texas over at TWIA”

Oh, say can you see Ike’s wind came before the sea (edited)

Anyone who still doesn’t believe hurricane surge washes away what the wind destroys need look no further Galveston Island’s Beachtown after Hurricane Ike for evidence.

"After Ike" photograph of home in Galveston Island's Beachtown
"After Ike" photograph of home in Galveston Island's Beachtown

Hurricane Ike hit Galveston Island in the early morning hours of September 13th, 2008. The sheer size of the hurricane impacted a majority of the Texas Gulf Coast, in addition to the SW Gulf Coast of Louisiana.

At the East End of Galveston Island, the hurricane delivered its fiercest winds as well as a storm surge not experienced since the devastating hurricane of 1900. Beachtown found itself in the unenviable position of receiving the dirty side of the hurricane and Ike’s relentless punches delivered from the Northeast…

Galveston Island was inundated with hurricane debris, including boats lying in the streets and esplanades….a devastating blow to Galveston Island. There were clear signs of Ike’s presence at Beachtown, as many of the streets and lawns were covered by a layer of sand brought by the storm surge.

However,most compelling was the condition in which the residences and other structures lay… largely unscathed. Signs of hurricane Ike’s impact were limited to the breakaway sections of the structures. The buildings’ structures performed outstandingly. The habitable floors remained undamaged despite the horrific forces of Ike.

FEMA and the City of Galveston require the enclosed portion of structures located below Base Flood Elevation (as is the case for coastal communities and beachfront homes) be designed to break-away with the impact of a hurricane force, leaving the main structure intact. Ground Floor breakaway materials, such as louver panel assemblies and garage doors, separated as designed.

Continue reading “Oh, say can you see Ike’s wind came before the sea (edited)”

SLABBED Daily: May 2 (weekend edition)

Unlike retiring Justice Stouter, who uses neither a typewritter or a computer, but otherwise copes with  modernity; I use both but have spend most of the morning trying to figure out how to link music to the blog.

It is not that Souter can’t cope with modernity. When the Supreme Court considered a copyright case involving the latest file-sharing methods in 2005, Souter’s opinion for a unanimous court showed a deep understanding of peer-to-peer Internet applications. It has won praise from both the legal and the high-tech communities.

No one, however, will be praising my understanding of the directions for adding music to the blog, particularly Sop.  Chalk up the addition of the “weekend edition” to the title, however, to CYA  – a combination of not much in the way of news and the time I lost fooling around with the sound connection.

Meanwhile, the SLABBED Daily quietly continues with Floodwall builders can’t be sued for Katrina failure on 17th Street Canal.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to revive a lawsuit seeking $400 billion from contractors who built a 17th Street Canal floodwall that failed during Hurricane Katrina.

The court ruled Thursday that state law protects the six construction and engineering companies from suits because more than five years passed between the time that the Army Corps of Engineers accepted their work as complete and the wall’s failure during Katrina. The floodwall that failed was completed in 1992, 13 years before the storm.

All of the coastal states would be well served to look at state laws that leave consumers without the recourse they would have under federal law.  Here’s the 5th Circuit’s ruling, compliments of the TP.

The risk in looking at state law, however, is that the result will make things worse.  Texas provides a current example.   Some, as you will see, are pushing for $300 million to $500 Continue reading “SLABBED Daily: May 2 (weekend edition)”

SLABBED Daily – April 13

A happy -but belated – 50th birthday to Chip Merlin. If you’ve ever wondered what to give a man who has everything, you’ll be interested in knowing his “family gift” was a two-week holiday in Italy; his staff gave him two-weeks of great blog posts, and, I tore a page describing windstorm damage in Galveston from a magazine.

Merlin bookended his trip to Italy with some great posts on wind damage following Ike and the not-so-great response from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. It appears TWIA has been blowing off wind damage for some time, as far back as Hurricane Rita!

Allstate/Pilot Claim Servise (and State Farm) have successfully and invisibly shifted their liability for paying for the repair or replacement of Hurricane Rita damaged roofs, back onto their trusting clients shoulders, and the general insured publics shoulders via the TWIA premium pool, and the Texas General Fund tax payer shoulders.

I wouldn’t have written a word about this if the Editilla K-Ninaaa hadn’t corrected the spelling to Beaux! Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – April 13”