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April 11, 2024

  • Poetics of April
    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
  • Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg
    Indie bookstore, Gathering Volumes, just hosted poet and (transgender) activist, Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg To celebrate Trans Day of Visibility, Minney read from her poetry book – A Woman in Progress (2024). Her reading depicted emotional and physical transformations especially in the scene of womanhood and queer experiences. Her language is empowering and personally […]
Spring Housing Guide

Homeowners sue insurers for denying money after Katrina

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. has agreed to settle out of court with more than 200 residents of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast who sued the insurer over Hurricane Katrina damage, a lawyer for the policyholders said yesterday.

Terms of the mass settlement between the Columbus, Ohio-based company and up to 227 of its policyholders were not

disclosed.

The homeowners are represented by a team of lawyers led by Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, who helped negotiate a similar deal for clients who had sued State Farm Insurance Cos. In that deal, State Farm had agreed to pay about $80 million to settle with up to 640 policyholders.

Zach Scruggs, Richard Scruggs’ son and law partner, said lawyers are meeting with Nationwide policyholders this week to explain the settlement terms – and some could be paid immediately.

“The parties are pleased to have settled the cases,” Zach Scruggs said yesterday. “It’s always better to resolve litigation or disputes rather than drag it out for years.”

Nationwide spokesman Joe Case confirmed that a settlement has been reached.

“The lawsuits will be or have been dismissed,” he said in a written statement.

Hundreds of Mississippi homeowners have sued their insurers for denying claims after the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane. The companies say their homeowner policies cover damage from a hurricane’s wind but not its rising water, including storm surge.

Scruggs’ deal with Nationwide would settle all the lawsuits his team filed against the company in Katrina’s aftermath. The legal team still represents several hundred clients with pending suits against other insurers including Allstate Insurance Co., MetLife Inc., United Services Automobile Association and the Mississippi Farm Bureau Insurance Co., according to Zach Scruggs.

Last year, Nationwide was the defendant in the first federal trial for a Katrina insurance case.

In that case, U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. sided with Nationwide and ruled that the company didn’t owe policyholders Paul and Julie Leonard for damage to their Pascagoula home caused by Katrina’s storm surge. Scruggs represented the Leonards.

Last week, Nationwide announced it will readjust claims for about 500 Mississippi policyholders whose homes were reduced to slabs by Katrina. Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale said the agreement could result in additional payments for these policyholders.

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