AG Hood’s Katrina lawsuit transferred to Gulf Coast federal court

Published 8:04 pm Friday, December 22, 2006

Attorney General Jim Hood’s civil lawsuit against insurance companies over Hurricane Katrina damages has been moved from federal court in Jackson to one in Gulfport.

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate signed the transfer order this past week, according to court officials.

Hood filed the lawsuit Sept. 15, 2005, in state court against five major insurers who successfully fought to move the case to federal court. In June, Hood asked Wingate to expedite a ruling on returning the case to state court.

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No ruling has been issued.

U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. in Gulfport will now hear the case. Senter is presiding over more than 1,000 lawsuits policyholders have filed against their insurance companies.

Wingate’s order says only that he is transferring the case “pursuant to the interests of justice and orderly disposition of related cases.”

Hood claimed in the lawsuit, which gives only one side of the legal argument, that insurers should cover all of Hurricane Katrina’s damage because policies fail to specifically exclude “storm surge.” Hood believes state law is on his side and wants the case heard in state court.

In federal court, Senter already has ruled in lawsuits filed by individuals that storm surge is not covered under private insurance policies. Instead, Senter ruled, national flood insurance covers surge and private insurers cover wind damage.