Court Grants Motion to Dismiss Negligence Claim Against Flood Insurer

Storm in rural setting

Hurricane Harvey damaged three of insured homeowner's association condominium's buildings.

December 22, 2019
Tred R. Eyerly - Insurance Law Hawaii

The insurer successfully moved to dismiss the insured's negligence claim and demand for jury trial, leaving only the insured's breach of insurance contract claim under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). La Mirage Homeowners Association Inc. v. Wright National Flood Ins. Co., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147667 (S.D. Tex. Aug 29, 2019).

Hurricane Harvey damaged three of insured homeowner's association condominium's buildings. Wright National Flood Insurance Company was the insurer pursuant to the NFIP when the hurricane damaged the insured's property. The insured alleged that Wright breached the policy by underpaying on the flood loss claims and by not initiating the appraisal the insured demanded. The insured sought recovery for negligence, consequential damage, statutory penalties, attorney's fees and pre-and-post judgment interest.

Wright moved to dismiss the extra-contractual claims and to strike the jury demand.

The NFIP's regulations allowed homeowners to purchase policies either directly from FEMA or from private insurers that functioned as Write Your Own (WYO) providers and fiscal agents of the United States. The Fifth Circuit had previously held that state law tort claims arising from claims handling by a WYO were preempted under federal law. The court, therefore, was faced with the issue of whether the insured's claims of negligence, attorney's fees, statutory penalties, and interest were policy-handling claims which were preempted by federal law.

Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at te@hawaiilawyer.com



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