Western District of Louisiana Implements Streamlined Settlement Process
How the litigation following Hurricanes Laura and Delta may affect my Hurricane Ida property claim:
Just last year, western Louisiana residents suffered from two natural disasters in Hurricane Laura and Delta. More than 774 civil insurance lawsuits have been filed in federal court of the Western District of Louisiana since Hurricane Laura and Delta struck Louisiana. With hundreds of new lawsuits, there is great uncertainty when it comes to Louisiana property damage law. Now more than ever, you will need an experienced property damage lawyer who understands the everchanging legal landscape following Hurricane Laura, Delta, and now Ida.
One of the biggest changes that has come out of the multitude of lawsuits filed is that the Western District is streamlining the settlement process through mediation
What is mediation, and why does that help me?
Instead of going through a lengthy litigation process and formal discovery that can take months or years, the Western District Court of Louisiana felt it was best to give both plaintiffs and defendants the option to pursue a streamlined settlement. After 14 days of filing of defendant’s responsive pleadings, either party can motion the Court for a Streamlined Settlement Process. First, parties are required to conduct a settlement conference, if the parties are unable to settle at the conference, the case will be set for formal mediation.
During the mediation, both parties will meet with a neutral mediator who will help to try to resolve your claim. Mediators are independent individuals who have extension training and experience in helping parties resolve their disputes in a fair and impartial manner. During this streamlined process, there shall be no formal discovery for either party.
The goal of the streamlined settlement process is to offer a quick resolution to the Hurricane Claim without the lengthy discovery process that may take months or years while incurring litigation expenses for both sides.
What does this mean if I have been affected by Ida?
The legal field expects that the Eastern District Court will follow the Western District and offer a similar Streamlined Settlement Process for the numerous Hurricane Ida lawsuits expected to be filed. With an experienced attorney such as William Joyner, who has experience with property damage claims and mediations, you can feel confident that your claim is being handled in the most time-efficient and cost-effective manner.
Sample Louisiana Hurricane Law and Recent Decisions:
If you decide to make a property damage claim, you are not just limited to the amount of property loss. Louisiana case law supports your ability to seek bad faith damages against a non-compliant insurance company and to bring damages to recovery any mental/emotional damages that you may have received as a result of your insurance company’s failure to properly compensate you.
In the Supreme Court case of Guillory v. Lee, 16 So.3d 1104, 1126 (La. 2009), the Court found that Louisiana Revised Statute § 22:1892 makes an insurer liable for penalties and attorney fees in certain circumstances based on its bad faith handling of a claim. To prevail under this statute, the insured must show that (1) the insurer received satisfactory proof of loss; (2) the insurer failed to tender payment within 30 days of receiving this proof; and (3) the insurer's failure to pay is “arbitrary, capricious, or without probable cause.”). Similarly, Louisiana Revised Statute § 22:1973(B)(5) provides for an award of penalties when an insurer fails to pay within 60 days and that failure is “arbitrary, capricious, or without probable cause.”
In other words, you have the right to seek bad faith damages against your insurance company if they failed to provide failed to tender payment after you provide satisfactory proof of loss, which can be 30 to 60 days after failure to pay. If your insurance company has failed to provide payment after satisfactory proof, William Joyner can help recover the payment owed, and in addition, help you recover damages for the bad faith committed by your insurance company.
In the recent decision of Turner v. United Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co, Western District of Louisiana found that you can recover mental anguish damages for property damage claims from hurricanes. The court found that pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statutes 22:1973 a claimant may recover statutory damages “[i]n addition to any general or special damages” in the event his insurer breaches the duty of good faith and fair dealing prescribed by the statute. As explained by the Fifth Circuit, “[b]y authorizing ‘any damages,’ including ‘any general or special damages,’ the legislature pointedly permitted the award of mental anguish damages.” Dickerson v. Lexington Ins. Co., 556 F.3d 290, 304 (5th Cir. 2009).