A case recently came in front of the court regarding a claim for damage caused by Hurricane Irma. The case is Rodriguez v. Wright National Flood Ins. Co., No. 4:18-cv-10077 (S.D. Fla. Aug. 14, 2018). In Rodriguez, the defendant, Wright National Flood Insurance Company, a write-your-own insurance carrier that is part of the government’s National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”), insured plaintiff’s property in Key West, Florida, under a Standard Flood Insurance Policy (“SFIP”).

On September 10, 2017, the property was damaged by Hurricane Irma. The plaintiff filed a claim, and the defendant issued a partial payment. The plaintiff then sued the defendant for breach of contract and damages in state court. The defendant moved to dismiss the case, arguing that state law claims related to SFIP are preempted and barred by federal law.

The Florida courts have unequivocally held that federal law applies in SFIP cases, and related state law claims are preempted. Accordingly, the state court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss.

The court in Rodriguez reached the same conclusion as the court in a case I blogged about last month, Brown v. Wright National Flood Ins. Co., No. 18-cv-10034 (S.D. Fla. July 13, 2018), in which the plaintiff sought to recover attorneys’ fees and costs stemming out of a breach of contract of his Standard Flood Policy. The court ruled that state law was preempted by federal law.

  • What is the idea behind filing these flood cases in state court?

  • ND

    does that mean that people with flood insurance claims can’t recover attorneys fees when they have to sue for breach? that’s terrible.