Due to the hundreds of pending civil cases arising out of flood claims from Superstorm Sandy, on March 6, 2014, the U.S. District Court in New Jersey invited members of the Bar handling Superstorm Sandy flood cases to a public meeting to discuss how the cases could be handled in the most efficient way possible. As a result of the public meeting, the federal judges on Monday, March 24, 2014, signed Hurricane Sandy Case Management Order No. 1 (“HSCMO”) and Standing Order No. 14-2,1 which provide:

The Court hereby adopts a Hurricane Sandy Case Management Order (“HSCMO”) to govern all Hurricane Sandy cases involving standard flood insurance policies sold and administered by participating Write Your Own (“WYO”) Program insurance companies in accordance with the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”), a Federal insurance program administered by the Federal Management Agency (“FEMA”) pursuant to the NFIA (“WYOC actions”), in addition to direct claims against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) under the NFIA (“direct suit”).

The HSCMO shall be entered in each NFIP and direct suit action upon the filing of an answer, and shall supersede all prior scheduling orders in the NFIP and/or direct suit cases.

Among other things, the 16 page HSCMO sets forth certain discovery protocol and associated deadlines, such as the following:

  • Automatic disclosures (document production and information exchange) are to be completed by the parties within 30 days from entry of the HSCMO.
  • Written statements of contention (which address each party’s legal, factual and monetary contentions) are to be filed no later than 45 days from entry of the HSCMO.
  • Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents and Requests for Admissions are to be served not later than 60 days from entry of the HSCMO.
  • The parties are limited to 3 fact depositions per side.
  • Depositions shall be completed within 120 days of the HSCMO.

The HSCMO also addresses expert witnesses, amendment of pleadings, alternative dispute resolution, pre-trial orders, property inspections, discovery confidentiality orders, initial case management conferences, and telephonic appearances.

While we are on the topic of flood cases…….. as a reminder, Monday, April 28, 2014, is the deadline for a policyholder to file a completed, signed, and sworn Superstorm Sandy Federal Flood Insurance Proof of Loss or supplemental proof of loss, which includes all documentation to fully support the claim. Policyholders officially have less than 1 month to ensure their Proof of Loss form is timely filed.

You can access the Proof of Loss form on the FEMA website: http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/9343?id=2545

While the April 28, 2014, deadline is for the filing of a Proof of Loss or a supplemental Proof of Loss, the deadline for filing a lawsuit could be either before or after that date, depending on the circumstances of the particular loss.

1 Copies of Standing Order 14-2 and Hurricane Sandy Case Management Order No. 1 can be found on the court’s web page at http://www.njd.uscourts.gov/hurricane-sandy-cases.