Justices Turn Aside Flood Insurance Plea

Feb 19, 2008

Palm Beach Post–Feb. 19, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court refused Tuesday to offer help to Hurricane Katrina victims who want their insurance companies to pay for flood damage to their homes and businesses.

The justices rejected appeals from Xavier University and 68 other individuals and businesses seeking to allow their lawsuits against the insurers to go forward.

Xavier asked the court to step in after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the policies did not cover damage from floods, even those that resulted from man-made failures such as the collapsed levees in New Orleans.

Other cases working their way through state courts have so far reached differing conclusions. A Louisiana appeals court has said that language excluding water damage from some insurance policies was ambiguous. The Louisiana Supreme Court will hear arguments in that case on Feb. 26.

Xavier and the other plaintiffs had asked the federal court to allow the state Supreme Court to rule on their suits as well. The 5th Circuit refused and the U.S. high court upheld that ruling on Tuesday.

The cases are Xavier University of Louisiana v. Travelers Casualty Property Company of America, 07-711, and Chehardy v. Allstate Indemnity Company, 07-713.