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Katrina storm surge insurance case remanded to Mississippi state court

[JURIST] US Senior District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. [official profile] of the US Southern District of Mississippi [official website; Katrina-related orders and opinions] remanded to Mississippi state court Wednesday a key Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] case involving whether insurance exclusion clauses for flood damage mean that storm surge damages are excluded as well. With state courts being typically more plaintiff-friendly in interpreting such insurance clauses, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood [official website] said the ruling was a step towards a fair resolution for the people of Mississippi [press release, PDF], and used the opportunity to again call for the insurance companies, including State Farm [corporate website], Allstate [corporate website], and Nationwide [corporate website] to negotiate a settlement, as well as make a public call for national insurance reform. The case will now be heard by Judge Denise Sweet Owens [official website] in the Chancery Court of Hinds County.

There have been numerous Katrina-related insurance cases in Mississippi [JURIST news archive] over the past year. In August, Judge Senter ruled that Nationwide Insurance was not obligated to cover a policyholder's claims [JURIST report] for water damage caused by the hurricane because “provisions of the Nationwide policy that exclude coverage for damages caused by water are valid and enforceable terms of the insurance contract” and “similar policy terms have been enforced with respect to damage caused by high water associated with hurricanes in many reported decisions.” Reuters has more.

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