Insurer settles Katrina class action for $23 million

Alejandro de los Rios Aug. 24, 2010, 2:21pm


Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. (LCPIC) has settled a class action suit related to hurricanes Katrina and Rita claims for $23 million in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Orleans Parish resident Stephanie Press headed a class of plaintiffs that alleged that LCPIC didn't pay for contractors' overhead and profit.

Metairie attorney Mark Smith filed the original petition for damages in June 2006 and the case was consolidated with three other suits Smith filed in a period of three days in August 2007.

A report in National Underwriter Magazine quotes LCPIC CEO John Wortman as saying that the settlement is "the best thing for everybody" and that LCPIC had enough cash set aside for the settlement.

According to the final settlement agreement, the class includes everyone who had a LCPIC homeowner's policy at the time of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. All parties eligible for compensation will be notified via direct mail through the Claims Administrators Kinsella Medial LLC and Rust Consulting Inc., according to the settlement agreement.

Class counsel is also obligated to set up a Website.

An objection and opt-out deadline has been set for Oct. 20 and fairness hearing has been set for Nov. 18 to finalize the settlement, according to a preliminary settlement agreement signed by Judge Sidney Cates IV on July 23.

LCPIC was named in more than 300 suits in just the first two years following hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Orleans Parish. Court papers state that LCPIC's databases registered some 77,000 claims filed in relation to the storms.

The settlement agreement states that two pending class actions – Oubre v. LCPIC in Jefferson Parish and Orrill v. AIG, Inc., et al. in Orleans Parish – are not affected by this settlement.

New Orleans attorneys Allan Kanner, Cynthia St. Amant and Melissa Fuselier, as well as California attorneys Howard Snyder, Daniel Gruber and James Kropff were also listed as class counsel.

Metairie attorneys John Culotta and Darren Patin represent LCPIC.

Orleans Parish Case 2006-05530

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