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More than 200 victims of Hurricane Katrina had sued the insurer; terms of the deal weren't disclosed

Apr 24, 2007 | AP

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. has agreed to settle out of court with more than 200 residents of Mississippi's Gulf Coast who sued the insurer over Hurricane Katrina damage, a lawyer for the policyholders said.

Terms of the mass settlement between the Columbus, Ohio-based company and up to 227 of its policyholders were not disclosed.

All of the homeowners are represented by a team of lawyers, who helped negotiate a similar deal for clients who had sued State Farm Insurance Cos. In that deal, State Farm agreed to pay about $80 million to settle with up to 640 policyholders.

The plantiff's attorneys, said they are meeting with Nationwide policyholders this week to explain the settlement terms and some could be paid immediately.

"The parties are pleased to have settled the cases," one of the plantiff's attorneys stated. "It's always better to resolve litigation or disputes rather than drag it out for years."

Nationwide spokesman Joe Case confirmed that a settlement has been reached. "The lawsuits will be or have been dismissed," he said in a written statement.

Hundreds of Mississippi homeowners have sued their insurers for denying claims after the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane. The companies say their homeowner policies cover damage from a hurricane's wind but not its rising water, including storm surge.

The legal team still represents several hundred clients with pending suits against other insurers including Allstate Insurance Co., MetLife Inc., United Services Automobile Association and the Mississippi Farm Bureau Insurance Company.

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