This week I wanted to provide an update on the current status of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York’s management of the “In Re Hurricane Sandy Cases” litigation. You can read my last blog on subject here: Update on Superstorm Sandy Litigation in the Eastern District of New York.

Last Friday, I attended a HarrisMartin “Superstorm Sandy Insurance Coverage Litigation Conference” in New York which included a segment on the judicial management of the Superstorm Sandy cases and a discussion of the Case Management Orders. There are currently over 1,000 pending Superstorm Sandy cases in the Eastern District of New York. The Court has recently entered additional Case Management Orders as specific issues have arisen. As a reference, you can read all of the Court’s recent orders here:

Here are some of the recent updates:

  • On April 7, 2014, the Court entered Case Management Order No. 3 (“CMO #3”) which instituted additions and modifications to the discovery procedures outlined in Case Management Order No. 1. CMO #3 provided, in pertinent part, as follows:

4. Defendants may conduct a sample of no more than thirty (30) site inspections, provided such inspections shall be completed by May 1, 2014, the results of which shall be provided to plaintiff’s counsel no later than May 15, 2014.
5. On or before April 30, 2014, counsel shall identify a total of twenty (20) cases from those assigned to Magistrate Judges Brown, Levy, Pollak and Reyes to be scheduled for settlement conferences.

Both Plaintiffs and Defendants have submitted their respective lists of exemplary cases.

  • On April 24, 2014, the Court entered Case Management Order No. 4 (“CMO #4”) and stated:

“It has come to the attention of the court that there are approximately 449 Hurricane Sandy Cases pending in the Eastern District of New York, for which no answer has been filed. Attached is a list of cases in which answers have not been filed as of the date of this Order. An answer is required in each individual case filed with this court.”

CMO #4 further provides that any Defendant must file an Answer in the individual case by May 7, 2014. Alternatively, in lieu of an Answer, a Defendant may file a letter to the subcommittee of magistrate judges to advise why it has not filed an Answer. Even if the parties have stipulated to an extension of time for the Defendant to file an Answer, but the Court has not approved such extension, the parties must either file an Answer by May 7, 2014 or seek approval of the stipulation by the committee of magistrate judges. Also, because the Court is aware that there are currently a large number of Hurricane Sandy cases where there has been no notice of appearance filed on behalf of defendant(s), the Court has ordered in CMO #4 that if a Defendant has not entered a Notice of Appearance, it must do so by May 7, 2014.

  • On May 2, 2014, the Court entered Case Management Order No. 5 (“CMO #5”), which modified CMO #1 to “permit information exchanged after April 21, 2014 (the deadline for the first phase of automatic discovery required under CMO1) to be used during case mediations. (See CMO 1 at 6-9).” 

Also, in CMO #5, the Court ordered as follows:

By May 15, 2014, defendants are directed to provide the Court with a list of the commonly occurring deficiencies in discovery that defendants have identified and believe will prevent meaningful settlement discussions, along with a list of the docket numbers of the cases in which each such problem has occurred. To the extent that plaintiffs are aware of any of these deficiencies identified during the May 1, 2014 conferences occurring in their own cases, they should take the necessary steps to immediately remedy such deficiencies.

  • On May 9, 2014, the Court entered a “Corrected Order” (Doc. 370) regarding the procedures for the parties to submit a Notice of Arbitration or mediation stipulation. Pursuant to the Corrected Order, “counsel in all Hurricane Sandy Cases are . . . Ordered to submit copies of any stipulations for mediation and arbitration to Liaison Counsel by May 22, 2014, and to indicate on such stipulations whether the parties are seeking to use private mediators or the Court’s mediation program.” Further, Liaison Counsel is to compile a list of the stipulations and submit them to the court by June 6, 2014.
  • On May 22, 2014, Plaintiffs and Defendants’ Liaison Counsel will participate in a one-day mediation training program for mediators in the Eastern District of New York. Chip Merlin and Javier Delgado from our firm will be some of the presenters. This training is for the purposes of educating the Eastern District of New York mediators on the chief substantive issues they are likely to encounter in mediating Superstorm Sandy cases.

Stay tuned for future blogs containing updates on the latest developments in this litigation.