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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Joyner

Latest developments from the Western District following Hurricanes Laura and Delta

The Federal Western District Court of Louisiana has provided recent favorable judgments to plaintiffs bringing property damage and other consequential claims following Hurricanes Laura and Delta. These recent decisions from the Western District Court following Hurricanes Laura and Delta provide great insight on how the Eastern and Middle District courts will rule for Hurricane Ida cases and could benefit your claim.

In an important recent decision, the plaintiff in Oak Haven Mgmt. LLC v. Starr Surplus Lines Ins. Co. sustained damage to properties struck in Southwest Louisiana in August and October 2020 following Hurricanes Laura and Delta. Following disagreements with the carrier defendant over the amount of damages, the plaintiff filed suit in the Western District Court raising claims of breach of insurance contract and bad faith under Louisiana law. The Defendant brought a motion to dismiss, seeking to enforce the forum selection clause in the policy, which would have New York law hold jurisdiction over the case. The Plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing that the clause is unenforceable because it violates Louisiana public policy. The court would go on to hold that the Louisiana legislature's prohibition against forum selection clauses in insurance contracts reflects a strong public interest in having disputes over policies covering Louisiana residents or property decided locally. Accordingly, the forum selection clause was found not be unenforceable, and Louisiana law was applied as standard. Oak Haven Mgmt. LLC v. Starr Surplus Lines Ins. Co., No. 2:21-CV-01273, 2021 WL 4134033, at *1 (W.D. La. Sept. 9, 2021).

Next, two recent rulings in the Western District provide support future plaintiffs to recover mental anguish and stress as part of consequential damages from Hurricane Laura. In Richardson, the court found that the plaintiff’s stress was adequately linked to plaintiff's consequential damages under Louisiana Statute § 22:1973, and that there is no basis for broadly striking any claim “directly or indirectly related” to Mr. Richardson's physical health. The court also found that the plaintiff was not required to designate any medical records or medical records evidencing plaintiff’s alleged stress related to his Hurricane claim. Richardson v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., No. 2:21-CV-00673, 2022 WL 352147, at *2 (W.D. La. Feb. 4, 2022). Similarly, the court in Quienatly, held that Mr. Quienalty's claim for mental anguish damages stemming from an insurer's breach of the duty of good faith can be supported by deposition testimony without the need of a medical report and/or medical treatment. Quienalty v. Federated Nat'l Ins. Co., No. 2:20-CV-01588, 2022 WL 289905, at *2 (W.D. La. Jan. 31, 2022).

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