Plaintiffs Rest Case Against Allstate In Wind-Vs.-Water Case

Thursday, April 12th 2007, 4:07 pm
By: News On 6

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Jurors must keep in mind that a Louisiana couple whose home was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina received $350,000 in federal flood insurance money when the panel decides how much money, if any, Allstate Insurance Co. owes the two, a federal judge said Thursday.

``That money cannot be recovered again in this case and I will instruct the jury to that effect,'' U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance said in response to a request from Allstate.

Vance made the announcement from the bench while the jury was out of the courtroom and after lawyers for homeowners Robert and Merryl Weiss of Slidell rested their case against Allstate.

At issue in this and numerous other similar post-Katrina civil lawsuits is the position taken by Allstate and other insurers that homeowner policies cover damage from a hurricane's wind but not the rising water that ensues, including wind-driven surge.

Allstate paid the Weisses $350,000 for coverage under their flood policy _ which is funded through the federal flood insurance program _ but only $29,483 for structural damage to their home and $14,787 for additional living expenses under their homeowner policy. The couple claims Allstate owes them hundreds of thousands of dollars more under the latter policy.

``We're not trying to get double recovery by any means,'' the Weisses' lawyer, Richard Trahant said after Vance's announcement. But he added that Allstate shouldn't get credit for money supplied by federal government through the flood insurance program.

Allstate's lawyers were to begin presenting their defense Thursday.