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Scruggs' first Katrina insurance trial



Following an eight-day bench trial, the case is now in the hands of federal judge L. T. Senter Jr. of Gulfport, Miss., who has promised a quick ruling. Although the exclusion of flood damage from homeowners' policies had been shouted from the rooftops for decades, Scruggs has produced witnesses who aver that their Nationwide Insurance agent assured them that floods were covered or that flood coverage was unnecessary; for example, a local chiropractor (whom the New York Times seems to be impressed by) says he remembers the agent saying this in a manner that was admittedly "roundabout" and not "directly", yet still somehow "emphatic". David Rossmiller at Insurance Coverage Blog writes, "I have a hard time believing that any agent along the Mississippi coast would believe or say that, but I suppose anything is possible." (Jul. 10)(more from Rossmiller here and here). Insurance Journal summarizes meteorologists' testimony about whether Katrina's winds would have been enough to destroy the home of Paul and Julie Leonard before storm surge arrived, thus triggering a risk covered by the policy. AP quotes Dickie Scruggs as saying of the case, "If you win it, it's a huge win. If you lose it, you spin it the best way you can."

 

 


Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.