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Louisiana insurer must pay $93M, Supreme Court rules

Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Years after Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana courts are still dealing with the lingering issues of that catastrophe. On December 16, 2011, the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld a district court's ruling regarding an insurance company that failed to initiate loss adjustments for its clients after Hurricane Katrina. The plaintiffs were awarded almost $93 million against their insurer.

Geraldine Oubre, Linda Gentry and others filed a class action lawsuit against the Louisiana Property Insurance Corp. on November 2005. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita damaged the plaintiffs' property and the damages were covered by their insurance policies. However, the insurer did not initiate loss adjustments in a timely manner once notified of the damages. State law demands that after a catastrophic loss, the insurer, "shall initiate loss adjustment of a property damage claim within 30 days after notification of loss by the claimant."[1]

The initial judgement by the district court was in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding them $5,000 in penalties for each claim that could be compensated. The total came to $92,865,00. The appeals court reversed the decision on the grounds that there was no evidence proving the insurer acted in bad faith. However, the Supreme Court found that point to be moot. Justice Jeannette Theriot Knoll wrote in the majority opinion, "It is the insurer's inaction alone that triggers the penalty; no justification or lack thereof on the part of the insurer need be shown."[1]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 The Southeast Texas Record, "La. SC reinstates $93M award against insurer," December 26, 2011