Last week I discussed FEMA’s has agreement to reopen and review 144,000 flood claims filed by homeowners whose properties were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Also, on March 13th the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, Jerome B. Simandle, issued two orders—recommended by the court’s Hurricane Sandy Litigation Committee and approved by the Board of Judges of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jerseytemporarily staying all Hurricane Sandy-related cases filed directly against FEMA, and insurance companies that participated in FEMA’s WYO program, for 60 days.

The Court also ordered the Clerk of Court to set up “Master Dockets” to link all pending Hurricane Sandy flood insurance cases containing direct claims against FEMA and WYO carriers. The case numbers are: 1:15-mc-700 and 1:15-mc-800.

You can read copies of the orders here:

The court noted that a temporary stay of such cases pending settlement efforts is warranted to conserve time and resources of the litigants, the court, arbitrators and mediators. Further, all scheduled conferences, hearings, arbitrations, mediations, and trials are canceled and postponed.

Any party seeking relief from the stay may apply to the assigned judge in their individual case with a showing of good cause. The orders do not preclude a party from requesting or furnishing documents or other evidence to aid settlement negotiation. When a settlement is reached, the parties are to file a notice of settlement on the docket of the individual case to close that document. The United States Attorney’s Office is also required to file a summary report of settlement efforts and results for FEMA and WYO carrier flood cases every 14 days beginning March 27th.

Because of what is happening in New Jersey and New York, Brad Kieserman, FEMA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Federal Insurance, issued a video statement on March 16, 2015, to directly address the flood insurance program’s policyholders.

Click here for a transcript of the video.