Flood victims might qualify for suit

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Local residents whose homes received flood damage during Hurricane Isabel may be eligible to join a class action lawsuit filed against various insurance companies in a Maryland court.

The suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, is designed to help homeowners insured against flood losses by insurance companies participating in the National Flood Insurance Program, a federal program designed to protect homeowners from losses associated with a flood catastrophe.


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The suit alleges that the insurance companies failed to deliver the promised benefits to thousands of people who had flood insurance policies and suffered damage to their houses in the September 2003 hurricane.

The suit applies only to flood damage, said Andrew N. Friedman, who heads the consumer practice at Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, the Washington, D.C. law firm that filed the case.

Few, if any, Suffolk residents are likely to be eligible, said Capt. Jim Judkins, the city’s emergency management coordinator. Wind, not flooding, is to blame for most damage in Suffolk.

&uot;We didn’t have the flooding damage, for example, that sections of Norfolk and Portsmouth had,&uot; Judkins said. However, some residents in waterfront communities, such as Eclipse, may qualify to join in the suit.

According to Friedman, the suit charges that the insurers mishandled claims from thousands of Hurricane Isabel victims and ultimately failed to pay proceeds to which the policyholders were entitled.

People wanting more information should call Friedman at (202) 408-4600.

A copy of the complaint filed can be viewed at the Cohen, Milstein Web site at www.cmht.com.