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State Farm must pay $2.5M in Katrina case

Mississippi jury orders punitive damages paid to a Louisiana couple whose claim was denied after their home was destroyed during hurricane

Jan 11, 2007 | CNN

A Mississippi jury has ordered State Farm to pay $2.5 million in punitive damages to a Broussard, Louisiana, couple whose house was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina, according to a spokesman in the judge's office.

State Farm had initially denied the couple's insurance claim.

Earlier in the day, Judge L. T. Senter Jr. determined that the plaintiffs were entitled to policy benefits for the loss of their home and its contents in the amount of more than $200,000, the spokesman said.

The decision could set the tone for future Katrina cases in Senter's courtroom. Judge Senter has more than 300 Katrina-related insurance cases on the docket, said his spokesman, who did not want his name used. The next case is scheduled to be tried starting Jan. 22, and the trial schedule is expected to pick up in the next few weeks, according to the spokesman.

State Farm said it had not expected the decision.

"We are disappointed and surprised by the court's ruling," a company spokesman remarked. "The expert testimony supported a different result. After the conclusion of the case, we will evaluate our next steps."


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