BioGerminatorWhy the levees were blown (Katrina)Fri Jan 26, 2007 20:33
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Why the levees were blown (Katrina)--the power of insurance companies
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2007 18:57:49 EST
Judge balks at State Farm Katrina deal
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press Writer 17 minutes ago
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Mississippi on Friday refused to endorse part of a proposed settlement that calls for insurance payments to thousands of Mississippi policyholders whose homes were destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. would not sign off on a deal between State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood for at least $50 million in payments to policyholders whose claims were denied but didn't sue the company.The Bloomington, Ill.-based insurer also had agreed to pay about $80 million to more than 600 policyholders who sued the company for refusing to cover damage from the Aug. 29, 2005, storm. Senter hasn't been asked to sign off on that part of the deal.Senter said he doesn't have enough information to determine how many policyholders would benefit from the deal or how much each can be paid."In the absence of substantially more information than I now have before me, I am unable to say, even preliminarily, that the proposed settlement establishes a procedure that is fair, just, balanced or reasonable," he wrote.Senter rejected the settlement "without prejudice," allowing lawyers to present a new agreement that satisfies his concerns.State Farm spokesman Phil Supple said the company looks forward to "addressing Judge Senter's concerns," adding, "We believe, given the opportunity, he will come to view the proposed settlement as fair, just, balanced and reasonable."A spokeswoman for Hood would not immediately comment.
In his eight-page ruling Friday, Senter said that although State Farm has agreed to pay $50 million to policyholders who qualify for the class action portion of the settlement, he can't determine "how thinly this large sum may be spread among the class members."Senter also expressed concern about a lack of any "guaranteed" payments to policyholders whose homes weren't completely destroyed and said he is "uncomfortable" with allowing many cases to be settled by binding arbitration "when none of these individuals has ever agreed to participate in that procedure."Mississippi's mass settlement agreement didn't involve any claims in other states.Lawyers involved in the agreement presented the "class action" portion of the deal to Senter on Tuesday afternoon.That part of the agreement would require State Farm to reopen and review claims filed by roughly 35,000 policyholders who live in Mississippi's three coastal counties but didn't file lawsuits against State Farm.After reviewing those claims, the company would be required to make new offers. Any disputes would be heard by an arbitrator whose decision would be binding.The accord came less than two weeks after a federal jury in Gulfport awarded $2.5 million in punitive damages to a couple who sued State Farm for denying their claim after Katrina.
Senter took part of that case out of jurors' hands, ruling that State Farm is liable for $223,292 in storm damage to the Biloxi home of Norman and Genevieve Broussard.Senter is the only federal judge in Mississippi who has been presiding over the hundreds of lawsuits that policyholders filed against State Farm and other insurers.
In the first trial for a Katrina insurance case, Senter ruled in August that Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.'s homeowner policies cover damage from wind but not storm surge. He also has ordered dozens of policyholders who sued their insurers to participate in an experimental mediation program.
(note: if the homes damaged by the storm was caused by wind--the policies would cover the homeowner's damages--since the "damage" was caused by "water" (levees blown) the homeowners have not been paid)
Katrina: Levee Was Bombed...
Hurricane Katrina: FEMA Officials Wouldn't Listen:
ABC NEWS Video
Man Claims he heard New Orleans Levees Dynamited into flooding city
Click Here to load video:
At that point, the diver went back down to do more inspection of the levee. On the second dive, he secreted a small chunk of the debris inside his wet suit and later arranged for it to be sent to trusted military friends at a The U.S. Army Forensic Laboratory at Fort Gillem, Georgia for testing. According to well placed sources, a military forensic specialist determined the burn marks on the cement chunks did, in fact, come from high explosives. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity said "We found traces of boron-enhanced fluoronitramino explosives as well as PBXN-111 embedded in the debris. This would indicate at least two separate types of explosive devices." The levee ruptures in New Orleans did not take place during Hurricane Katrina, but rather a day after the hurricane struck. Several residents of New Orleans and many Emergency Workers reported hearing what sounded like large, muffled explosions from the area of the levee, but those were initially discounted as gas explosions from homes with leaking gas lines. If these allegations prove true, the ruptured levee which flooded New Orleans was a deliberate act of mass destruction perpetrated by someone with access to military-grade UNDERWATER high explosives.
Very Painful Questions About New Orleans
By America's Patriot
Co-author and WSJ reporter Robert Block talks with Patrice Sikora of the Wall Street Journal
Radio Network about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
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