In my rush yesterday to post on the Vanderbrook decision in the Katrina Canal Cases docket, I neglected to call your attention to a very good story on Judge Duval’s decision from Joseph B. Treaster of the NY Times. Here it is. Thorough and accurate. Also, I want to point out the web site for the Canal Cases for your future reference (I got the link from Martin Grace of RiskProf). I hope the link to the Times works, you may need to register to use the site. In case it doesn’t, here are some key paragraphs:
“This is a major breakthrough,” said John N. Ellison, a member of the team of lawyers representing storm victims and a partner at Anderson Kill & Olick in New York. “Our hope is that this ruling may help get the redevelopment of the houses and the city going so the city can come back to life.”
The ruling was the first by a court in Louisiana on damage from Hurricane Katrina. It ran counter to rulings by a federal judge in Mississippi that supported the industry’s contention that most property insurance policies do not provide coverage for flooding.
But the judge in Mississippi, L. T. Senter of Federal District Court, disagreed with the insurers’ contention that any damage due to flooding nullified the coverage. He cleared the way for trials early next year to determine how much damage to flooded homes and businesses resulted from high winds.
The rulings differ, in part, because the nature of the flooding was different. In Mississippi, the storm drove water from the Gulf of Mexico ashore and wiped out tens of thousands of homes unprotected by artificial barriers. In New Orleans, flood waters breached some levees and poured into the city as the storm was moving away. The water lingered in parts of the city for weeks.
Mr. Ellison, the lawyer for the homeowners, said he believed that the New Orleans case would go to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit “on an expedited basis” and that deliberations could begin in the spring.
UPDATE: here is a link to a Katrina piece in the Journal of the Business Law Society of the University of Illinois College of Law. It’s not about Vanderbrook, but does look at Judge Senter’s decision in the Leonard case in Mississippi, and also quotes Randy Maniloff’s excellent writing on the Leonard decision. For those who can’t get enough Katrina, it’s worth a peek.