Clueless Katrina Comments
Archive for the 'Hurricane lawsuits' Category
Opinion issued 18 July 2007
Ingram is the largest…barge fleet in the United States. Testimony of David Sehrt. – page 13
Also, Ingram’s Senior Vice President Chief Operations Officer, David Sehrt (“Sehrt”), testified that Ingram did not have a written hurricane plan and that he knew about the allegedly applicable USCG and statutory rules and regulations.
See Levees Lawsuits excerpted below
Barge that Katrina heaved is trials focus – this link no longer operating
Residents blame Nashville company for destroyed homes
NEW ORLEANS — An eye-popping symbol of Hurricane Katrina’s destructive fury in New Orleans — a barge that landed on several homes in the city’s Lower 9th Ward — is at the center of a trial that started Monday in federal court.
The empty barge, nearly 200 feet long and weighing 705 gross tons, broke free of its moorings during the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane and wound up on the other side of a levee breach on the east side of the Industrial Canal.
The barge’s rusted wreckage is gone, but a thorny legal dispute lingers: Was it an act of God or corporate negligence that sent the barge crashing into the neighborhood?
Lawyers for a group of Lower 9th Ward residents blame the barge’s owner, Ingram Barge Co. of Nashville, for the destruction. The company, meanwhile, is seeking to limit its liability for any damage that its barge may have caused.
Case divided into phases
U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan, who is presiding over the barge litigation, has divided the case into phases. A trial started Monday for the first phase, which focuses on a narrow legal question: Did Ingram’s management have any “knowledge or privity” of alleged acts of negligence that could have caused damage from the barge?
David Sehrt, senior vice president and chief operations office for Ingram, testified Monday that the company wasn’t responsible for properly mooring the barge.
“If barges are in the care of customers, it is their responsibility to make sure they are safely moored,” he said.
Barge had been unloaded
In this case, Zito Fleeting delivered the barge to a marine terminal in New Orleans operated by Lafarge North America. Lafarge workers finished unloading cement from the barge early on Aug. 27, 2005 — two days before Katrina hit — and then moored it against a dock next to another barge.
Edward Busch, who was Lafarge’s assistant terminal manager, said he left a message with Zito that the barge was ready to be picked up.
“That was it,” he said. “Business as usual.”
Busch also called a towing company and asked for the barge to be shifted so that it was in a safer position on the dock. However, Busch said he couldn’t ask for the barge to be moved out of the terminal.
Busch said a man, later identified as an Ingram employee, visited the terminal before Katrina hit to inspect the company’s barges.
“I do not know what he did,” Busch recalled.
A key issue in the case is whether the barge is to blame for the levee breach or whether it floated through an existing gap. Ingram attorney Don Haycraft said several teams of experts have concluded that the barge wasn’t responsible for the levee failure.
Ingram argues its liability shouldn’t exceed its stake in the barge after it ran aground, estimated at about $17,000.
“This is similar to the White Star Line trying to limit its value to the lifeboats after the Titanic sank,” said Brian Gilbert, a lawyer for 3,000 residents affected by the breach.
The Sea Coast Echo reported February 3, 2008 that a school district (Bay-Waveland District) in Mississippi is being sued by an underwriter of Lloyd’s of London insurers. Please read their story about their continued recovery efforts. They also offer a newsletter at the bottom of the story page. I’ve made three attempts to download it and upon the third attempt one and a half hours later, it’s still downloading. I think a text or a document file would’ve been more suitable. I’ve very nearly given up!
Insurance co. sues Bay-Wave schools over Katrina claims
By Dwayne Bremer
Feb 3, 2008, 10:59
Ronnie Artigues, attorney for the Bay-Waveland Schools District
In an ironic – and perhaps historic – twist, an insurance company has sued its customer over damage claims from Hurricane Katrina.Students in the Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District may have to continue to attend classes in trailers for years because the district and its insurance company are contending $24 million dollars in Katrina damage claims.
In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in district court, Cathedral Capital Limited, an under-writer of multi-billion dollar British insurance company Lloyd’s, London, said the school district is not entitled to any additional storm damage claims.
“The defendant has been paid everything owed under the policy for covered loss due to wind and hail from Hurricane Katrina,” the suit said. “The defendant did not have insurance coverage which provided coverage for the perils of flood or mold at the time of Hurricane Katrina.”School district officials have maintained that damage in numerous locations was caused by wind. At Second Street Elementary, for example, there was very little if any storm surge from Katrina.
“We have been sued by our insurance company,” school board attorney Ronnie Artigues said. “Hopefully, we can still sit down and negotiate a settlement, but we will defend ourselves if we have too.”
Artigues said the two sides have been conducting mediation meetings since November. The last meeting was this past Wednesday, the day the suit was filed.
Scott Ellzey, a Gulfport attorney who represents Cathedral, described the court action as a “declamatory judgment action proceeding.”
He said, however, that discussions between the insurer and the school district are still ongoing.
“Both parties continue to work towards a resolution of this claim,” he said.
The main point of contention seems to be the wind vs. water debate which has been so prevalent in most of the Katrina lawsuits.
This suit, however, is different because it is the insurance company which is suing a public entity.
Artigues said the school district suffered about $50 million in damages as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
Currently, students at North Bay, Second Street, and Waveland Elementary are attending classes in portable trailers.
The litigation could potentially hold up construction of permanent schools for years and cost the school district large amounts of money in legal fees.
The school district’s policy with Cathedral is an “excess policy.” It pays only after claims on the district’s basic or primary policies have exceeded policy limits.
The first $5 million in damages was claimed under two other policies. The school district was paid that money. The third layer of coverage is an excess policy with a maximum benefit of $24.9 million.
Also at issue is the fact that the school district has submitted two different claims. The first claim, submitted on June 12, 2005, claimed a loss of $8,640,444.14. The excess policy in question would owe a possible $3,640,444.14 less any deductibles.
A second claim filed by the district, dated May 23, 2007, claims the loss to be $24,979,713.00. That would make the policy owe a possible $24,979,713.00 after deductibles and previous payments. That amount is equal to the total face coverage of the excess policy.
In its court filing, Cathedral Capital Limited states; “….defendant has fired its original public adjuster, and has filed a second Sworn Statement and Proof of Loss….This represents a $21 million increase from the Defendant’s original Sworn Statement and Proof of Loss.”
The insurance company also states that it has already paid what it says is its share of the first claim, $314,250.26. That left an unpaid difference of $3,326,193.88.
“The facts and circumstances set forth have given rise to controversy between the parties whether Cathedral is obligated to make any further payment to the defendant for this claim,” the suit said.
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney’s office said Friday it was not aware of the suit, but it would be studying it over the next week.
You can read more court opinions and judgements of Insurance claims lawsuits from the United States District Court, Southern District of Mississippi here.
Lloyd’s of London – (to call them and give them a piece of yur mind.)
Amanda St Pierre, Communications
Tel: +1 212 382 4091
OR if you would prefer NOT to do that try this…
To Donate to the Bay-Waveland School District
Katrina Relief Fund
Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District
201 Carroll Avenue
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520
If you would like to speak to someone about our efforts, please call 228-467-6621.