In the first of the post-Katrina coverage lawsuits to make it to trial, and after taking what seemed like a really long time to issue a verdict, Judge L.T. Senter has ruled in favor of Nationwide and against policyholders Paul and Julie Leonard in their lawsuit. I’ve got paying work to do and have to read the judge’s opinion, which I’m in the process of getting, but for all you Katrina-ites, here is a link to feast on for the time being.
Remember, this case was somewhat different than the Tuepker and Buente lawsuits before Senter, because the gist of the Leonards’ case was that their insurance agent told them that all hurricane damage would be covered, and that Nationwide was bound by the agent’s statements. The other cases were about pure coverage: the meaning of insurance policies from State Farm and Allstate. I have to say, I really do feel sorry for the Leonards, but I had a lot of trouble buying their case and I had an incredibly hard time picturing that any agent would be so dumb as to claim something that was so obviously contradicted by the plain language of the policy. This result is the one I thought was the most likely.
UPDATE: For newcomers to this blog, there are a ton of Katrina-related posts on the blog, but I don’t have time to link to all of them right now. So if you want more, just go down and to the right on the screen and put "Katrina" in the search box.
SECOND UPDATE: Here’s another link, from the Insurance Journal. Here’s a link to RiskProf. Here is a link to a statement by a pro-insurer group on the case. Here is a link to another news wire story on the decision. Of course, the plaintiffs’ attorney, the unsinkable Dickie Scruggs, is spinning it as a win (if nothing else, Scruggs sure does give the impression of fighting like a tiger for his clients). I’ll link to the decision as soon as I’ve got it.