Louisiana attorney John H. Denenea Jr. might just be raising the bar for Mississippi attorneys practicing law in federal court, where legal records are available to anyone willing to pay for access through the electronic case management system, Pacer.
Denenea has filed legal briefs for policyholders in two lawsuits against State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. But these briefs are unlike thousands of others in Katrina insurance cases, or other civil cases for that matter.
They contain hyperlinks to videos of adjusters explaining how claims were handled. You'll find a link to the briefs near the end of this post.
The adjusters were questioned under oath during pre-trial preparation. Denenea briefs also link to a video State Farm used to train the large number of adjusters needed for Katrina's unprecedented destruction.
You can click on the links and go to those video excerpts.
The adjusters tell an all too familiar story. State Farm began documenting flood damage to homes as soon as shell-shocked policyholders telephoned the insurance company's call center. In some cases, policyholders had not even made it back to the Coast to view their homes firsthand.
They were asked how much water hit their homes. This information was recorded in their claims files.
At the call center, losses were blamed entirely on storm surge based on these calls. Of course, the federal government's National Flood Insurance Program covers storm surge.
One inexperienced adjuster said the benefit of the doubt does not go to policyholders. Another knew it did, but said State Farm policies excluded coverage for wind damage when tidal surge was involved.
"Any loss that occurs with the covered loss and a non-covered loss whether
it be before or after or during is not covered," the adjuster said.
Denenea filed the briefs in two cases, Taranto v. State Farm and Flores v. State Farm . In the briefs, he argues the court should dismiss a State Farm motion to throw out consideration of extra-contractural and punitive damages against the company, which has maintained from the get-go that it investigated all claims and paid what was owed under its policies.