Late yesterday evening, December 10, 2014, Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey sent a letter to several law firms handling Superstorm Sandy claims, Merlin Law Group included, concerning the potentially widespread issue of “Revised” engineering reports.
Chief Judge Simandle’s letter came as a response to several letters submitted by Plaintiff’s law firms asking the Court to address the issues brought to light in the Raimey v. Wright National Flood Insurance Company Memorandum and Order in the Eastern District of New York. This matter has been highly publicized and blogged about on this site over the last few weeks. The Chief Judge’s letter follows and as a direct result of FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate’s letter from December 5, 2014. Chip blogged about this letter in his post entitled, FEMA’s Fugate Calls for Transparency, Good Faith Treatment to Policyholders and Investigation of Excessive Litigation Costs Regarding Sandy Flood Claims.
Addressing the issues at hand, the Chief Judge stated:
The letter of December 5, 2014 from FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, requiring, among other things, that all draft and final engineering reports evaluating flood loss claims be made available to policyholders and their counsel for the sake of transparency, resolves this matter. The Committee expects that FEMA and all WYO carriers and their counsel will promptly obtain and turn over all such documents to plaintiffs’ counsel without the necessity for further court intervention. Judges in individual cases will have the opportunity to take appropriate action if such compliance is not forthcoming, or to address unique factors in a particular case.
This is a big win for policyholders in New Jersey still fighting the good fight against the WYO insurance carriers for their Superstorm Sandy claims. I hope that the carriers will hand these draft reports over immediately and without a fight, so homeowners whose coverage was wrongfully denied can get their properties put back together and finally get to go home.
As always, here is a (mildly) related tune, one of my all time favorites, Homeward Bound by Simon & Garfunkel: