The hazards of insurers’ taking a Katrina case to trial

This is a very good Becky Mowbray story in yesterday’s Times-Picayune following up on the recent Kodrin v. State Farm jury verdict.   I say that with some bias, as I was interviewed for the story.     

Here’s the story’s lede:

When the first federal insurance trial in Louisiana against State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. wrapped up last week, the jury’s message was clear: If companies want to deny payments under homeowners insurance policies because the damage was instead caused by flood, they darn well better be able to prove that flood was indeed what destroyed the home.

I think that is correct.  Legal arguments over the allocation of the burden of proof will be considered in the Fifth Circuit appeal of the Broussard v. State Farm case, but when you have a jury pool where everyone knows someone who was hit heavily by Katrina — or maybe they themselves were — the practical reality is that jurors are sharpening their knives and waiting to slice and dice any insurer’s trial presentation if they sniff any odor they don’t like.  Read the whole story, it provides some trial details I didn’t know about, and refers to the interview I did with a Kodrin juror  that was published on my blog.  That juror’s story was powerful testimony, and although I obviously haven’t conducted any kind of scientific survey, I’m betting it’s pretty typical of the way most jurors have seen or would see these kinds of cases.  

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