Severe devastation was left in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina breached the levees in 2005 resulting in thousands of victims whose homes and businesses were destroyed by massive flooding and water damages. This episode has seriously contributed to the escalation of homelessness and has greatly saddened the American people, yet we find that this was not the end to Louisianan troubles. It was surmised that the loss of property due to the poorly built levees and the horrific storm, Katrina victims cannot recover money from their insurance companies for the damages, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
Daniel E. Becnel, who represented 21 plaintiffs in the case, said, the case could affect tens of thousands of rebuilding residents and business owners in Louisiana.
â€œThis event was excluded from coverage under the plaintiffsâ€™ insurance policies, and under Louisiana law, we are bound to enforce the unambiguous terms of their insurance contracts as written,â€
Judge Carolyn King wrote for a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. As a result, the panel found those who filed the suit â€œare not entitled to recover under their policies,â€ she said.
Insurers could have taken a â€œmultibillion dollar hitâ€ if the ruling had gone against the industry, said David Rossmiller, an insurance attorney and analyst.
A dozen or more insurance companies, including Allstate and Travelers, were defendants.
Mr. Daniel E. Becnel attorney at law said he planned to appeal, while Xavier University said it would seek a rehearing, insisting the matter is ultimately one that should be decided by Louisiana courts.
This decision overturns a ruling by U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr., who in November sided with policyholders arguing that language excluding water damage from some of their insurance policies was ambiguous.
Duval said â€œthe policies did not distinguish between floods caused by an act of God â€” such as excessive rainfall â€” and floods caused by an act of man, which would include the levee breaches following Katrinaâ€™s landfallâ€.
But the appeals panel concluded that â€œeven if the plaintiffs can prove that the levees were negligently designed, constructed, or maintained and that the breaches were due to this negligence, the flood exclusions in the plaintiffsâ€™ policies unambiguously preclude their recovery.â€
â€œRegardless of what caused the failure of the flood-control structures that were put in place to prevent such a catastrophe, their failure resulted in a widespread flood that damaged the plaintiffsâ€™ property,â€ and policies clearly excluded water damage caused by floods, King wroteâ€.
John Houghtaling, an attorney representing 400 property and business owners in claims against insurers, agreed that this is a matter for the Louisiana courts. Heâ€™s not involved in this case but is set to argue one with similar issues before a state appeals court next month. He ultimately expects the Louisiana Supreme Court to weigh in on the exclusion issue.
â€œPeople from New Orleans need to realize this is not final,â€ he said. â€œThis is halftime.â€
This is just one of many future consolidated cases, including about 40 named plaintiffs, including Xavier University, and more than a dozen insurance companies. It is just one of the cases pending in federal court over Katrina damage. The Army Corps of Engineers faces thousands of claims for damage resulting after the levees breached; King noted in her opinion that dozens more cases, some consolidated and involving property owners suing insurers, are pending in federal court in New Orleans. Rossmiller, who is not involved in Katrina-related litigation, said the appeals panelâ€™s ruling wasnâ€™t surprising.
â€œThe 5th Circuit got it right,â€ he said. â€œThis was an easy one.â€
Representatives of Illinois-based Allstate and Minnesota-based Travelers said their companies were pleased with the courtâ€™s findings. Insurance companies typically restrict property coverage to damage caused by wind, fire and other hazards. Congress launched the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968 to help homeowners living in flood-prone areas get flood insurance to complement private policies. Private agents sell the federal policies, which are often subsidized by taxpayers because premiums donâ€™t factor in the real risks of damage.
This case or the loss of this case may well represent a new developing trend in American home insurance policies as many insurance companies are subtracting themselves from areas where there is a history of floods and other types of mishaps, and it would appear that they are not renewing contracts between old life long policy holders because of the incident in Katrina, due to the threat of having to honor their commitment to these home and business owners (the government is trying to get these insurance companies to take back their old customers due to the overload of state influx of insurance customers). It is a shame that insurance companies have taken money from millions of people for home and business insurance and many people have paid the insurance companies their entire lives with no incident or mishap of any kind, and yet they are homeless, and displaced from their natural environment (scattered across these United States). It would be interesting to see how the Louisiana Supreme Court system rules on these most grievous issues and how they will explain their rulings to the victims of Katrina/ insurance companies.
Insurance Monopoly, Is It a Money Confiscating Scheme?
I have noted by my own experience with home insurance companies that you have to sincerely read your contract in a most meticulous manor before signing it, make sure that it is in favor of your needs. Try consulting with an attorney before making a rash decision and should your insurance company not allow you to take any papers or contracts to your lawyer then you should not get that insurance, in view of the fact that it is a great indication that something is wrong with their policy. There are other ways of protecting yourself against home and property damage and we as property owners must begin to develop and discover some of those out of the box techniques (other than buying insurance from insurers). Some people who have a great deal of money have went so far as to insure themselves by buying bonds which are worth their property and placing these bonds in escrow which continue to earn money while the bonds are in escrow. I have seen people use this same method to insure their vehicles and I believe this can also be applied to life insurance. Very uncanny but it works to guarantee that you donâ€™t shell out money every month to a cause that you canâ€™t depend on while saving you more cash during the course of your life for other things. It is my hope that the average American will come together to research and to think out of the box in an asserted effort to conglomerate positive ideas to alleviate home and business owners from an insurance monopoly and from a money confiscating scheme.
"A year after Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, residents mourned their losses on what was designated a national day of remembrance.
Mourners gathered to pay tribute to nearly 1,700 people who lost their lives in the devastating storm. In New Orleans, bells tolled to mark the moment one of the city's flood walls was breached. Wreaths were thrown into the water at each of the city's broken levees. At this one on the Industrial Canal, hundreds of mourners danced, sang and openly wept.
It was a day of raw emotion for many."
In the Mississippi town of Gulfport, firefighters and police officers carried 14 red roses - one for each of those that died in their community.
President Bush joined the commemorations in New Orleans. He said he took full responsibility for the governmentâ€™s response that "fell short".
But that is small comfort to many who remain without homes and prospects a year on from the disaster.â€
Americans must never forget this extremely harsh lesson taught to us by the devastation of Katrina. We must usurp this moment of pain and suffering as a prize of graduated human development for the purpose of future guidance towards a better plan of protection for our people. This kind of tragedy should never happen as it did with little to no response for the victims of Katrina, and with the additional damages suffered as a result of the insurance denials for millions of home and business owners makes for very pitiful circumstances. Someone is responsible for the massive loss of property and life, either the insurance companies who has promised business security and real estate protection to the insured or the government who built and certified the levees for the city of Louisiana. Somebody must be large enough to be truly committed to the people who have been a source of dedication towards these insurance companies and who have been committed to the American way in service of this country ever since the beginning of this nation.
These are our people and they are Americansâ€¦â€¦.
I realized that there are many people around the globe during this time of global terrorism that donâ€™t like Americans, but it is a very sad day when we donâ€™t or wonâ€™t take care of ourselves.
LEISURE - CELEBRITIES
Copyright © 2010 Credo
In Case of Katrina
Copyright © 2010 Credo
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