THORNHILL Law Firm works with the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee in getting affected properties remediated through the Settlement Program.
THE FUTURE IS COMING TO LOUISIANA The Louisiana International Gulf Transfer Terminal (LIGTT) is a historic and game-changing project which will create America's first large transfer terminal designed to handle containers, bulk cargo, and petroleum products entering and leaving the United States of America.
For four years, THORNHILL is one of ten trial lawyers appointed by the Court to try the case against BP operations in the Gulf of Mexico, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of injured and damaged Plaintiffs, together with the US and five State governments, resulting in three class action settlements to date, so far valued at approximately $10 Billion.

Over the last six months, South Louisiana residents and businesses have experienced unprecedented flooding events that exposed many property owners to the difficult process of filing a flood related insurance claim. While some of us learned these painful lessons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and other storms, residents and businesses in many affected areas are new to the process and face dangerous pitfalls if their claims are not handled properly. This article is intended to give property owners a brief overview of what flood insurance is, what it isn’t, and some advice about dealing with your insurance company. For additional information about other forms of financial assistance, safety tips during clean up, and the first steps in filing a claim, please see here.

First, it is important to know how flood insurance is different from your homeowner’s or commercial building insurance. If your property is under mortgage, you are required to carry property insurance to protect your property against the risk of fire, wind damage, and certain other losses. If you are also in a designated flood zone, you are additionally required to carry separate flood coverage, because, as you probably know by now, flood damage is not covered by homeowner’s policies. Flood insurance policies may be provided from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) directly or through private insurers, but, in either case, the federal government underwrites the policies and pays for covered losses. Regardless of the value of the property insured, these policies are capped at $250,000 for residential building coverage, $100,000 for contents, and $500,000 for commercial buildings (i.e., this is the most that the insurance will pay for a particular event).

Before your flood insurer will pay a claim, they will require a sworn proof of loss statement—essentially, a form itemizing all of your damages that you swear is true. The proof of loss statement must be provided within 60 days of the loss. The importance of this document cannot be overstated. If you do not file it timely, or if you fail to list all your damages, your right to recover for your losses could be gone forever.

If you thought the CDO caused a real estate crash that could have been avoided with proper regulation, you are going to be pleased to know that the next example of why voters are sick and tired of Washington ineptness is upon us and it could cost us a bundle. The October 2013 Real Estate Crash may be delayed by delaying the implementation of the Biggert Waters Act of July 2013, revising the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”), but Congress will need to act quickly. National attention was focused on the problem with the poorly operated and under-funded NFIP, now part of FEMA, when Super Sandy hit New York City and New Jersey. Since then, the NFIP has been borrowing from the general budget to cover the cost of payments of flood insurance claims.
Although Sandy’s waters have retreated, the problem with the Biggert-Waters Act is that the intended remapping of flood zones has not occurred as required under the act and yet the act calls for an end to subsidized rates for property owners whose property is identified by FEMA as flood prone. For example, after Sandy, FEMA released new “preliminary” flood insurance maps for New York City, replacing “advisory” maps sent by FEMA immediately after Sandy. Using theoretical data, which is admittedly wrong in many instances, FEMA now shows a significant increase in the number of homes and businesses subject to flooding. For instance, in New York City, the new maps double the number of city structures in flood zones to more than 67,000 over the last map update in 2007, which was based on 1983 data.
Some will say this is only fair, those building in flood prone areas should simply know better. But the federal flood program facilitated lending and building in these areas through the use of the NFIP for years. Federally insured loans require flood insurance guaranteed by the federal government. And the insurance is completely at the risk of the federal government – private insurance companies have any risks from participating in the NFIP Write Your Own program.
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With the three year anniversary of the Deep Water Horizon (DWH) drill ship catastrophe on the Macondo well, the deadline to file claims under the Oil Field Pollution Act (“OPA”) is April 20, 2013. The claims filed require in many cases the prior filing of “presentment” to the responsible parties, BP and Trans Ocean, according to the findings of the Coast Guard Joint Investigation of the causes of the blow out. If you have not engaged counsel to assist you in this complicated legal proceeding, you should act as soon as possible.

Thornhill Law Firm is active and involved in the litigation in federal court that involves the liability determination. The firm offers its services to those in need of advice and counsel. We recommend that action be taken to protect one’s rights as necessary, including the exploration of all remedies available under the pending settlements for economics claims and medical claims to the excluded moratorium and governmental interests claims.

MetLife will pay a $50,000 penalty and refund an undetermined amount of money to customers to settle allegations it imposed costly surcharges on Massachusetts drivers who were found not at fault in auto accidents. In detailing an agreement reached with Metropolitan Property & Casualty Insurance Company, state attorney general Martha Coakley said Tuesday that some custoemrs who filed accident claims were improperly penalized even after a state appeals board had ruled they were not responsible for causing the crashes.

The deadline to file seafood compensation claims will expire January 20, 2013!

Section 5.11.9 of the Economic & Property Damages Settlement with BP mandates that all Seafood Program Compensation Claim Forms must be submitted within 30 days of the entry of the order and judgment approving the settlement by the District Court.

Because Judge Barbier approved the Economic & Property Damages Class Settlement on December 21, 2012, all Seafood Program Compensation Claims should be submitted to the Deepwater Horizon Court-Supervised Settlement Program by January 20, 2013.

For those of you unfamiliar with insurance-related appraisal process, as an alternative method of resolving insurance disputes, you should note that most insurance policies provide that after an insurance company has had the opportunity to adjust a claim, if there is disagreement, either side may request a form of arbitration called “appraisal.” The time to request the appraisal is not limited, in most instances, and has been condoned by the courts even after law suits are filed and discovery has begun. It is common for insurance companies to assign a favorite son as their appraiser and to invite the insured-plaintiff to appoint an appraiser. The two appraisers select an Umpire, who is asked to decide the case if the appraisers are unable to agree on the amount of damages.

One would think that the appraisal process eliminates the need for the law suit, however, most policies provide that even after the appraisal process is completed, the Umpire has ruled, the case may be litigated by the insurance company. It need only refuse coverage, or deny the claim, requiring litigation. Delays by the insurance company appraiser are common place in our experience, driving to the extreme the time and cost of the adjustment process. Further delays without repairs under the first party property and casualty policy work in Texas without the real prospect of penalties for late payment. Where the prospect of penalties was present in the law suit, the delays and abuses of appraisal are seldom considered by Texas courts to justify penalties for arbitrary and capricious refusal to pay, even where the Umpire rules that the damages are due and is evident that the insurance company had no legitimate basis to refuse to pay.

Of course, by its very nature, the appraisal process calls for an expedited alternative dispute resolution process, however, because it is not final, because it leaves to the insurance company the right to accept or reject the findings and there are not any penalties for arbitrary and capricious refusal to pay in Texas, the process operates to frustrate claimants and the lawyers hired to help prosecute claims for the insured. The insurance company right to reject the appraisal process after it is completed is just one of the several obstacles placed in the way of legitimate claims. Another is the assertion without basis by insurance companies in Texas that the appraisal process should be handled like “baseball arbitration,” where the Umpire is limited to accepting either the insurance appraisal or the claimant appraisal. The recent case of Providence Lloyds Ins. Co. v. Crystal City Ind. School Dist., 877 S.W. 872 (Tex App. San Antonio 1994) shows the claim of an insurance company to baseball arbitration. In that case the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling with the following ruling against baseball arbitration:

Potential claimants and business have a deadline of November 1st 2012 in which to opt-out of the BP settlement process. Come in to the Thornhill Law Firm NOW so that our experts can determine if your claim is best suited under the settlement or should opt-out and be excluded from the class action in order to protect your interest.

We recommend that by December 20th,2012, you make presentment of your claim to BP OPA Claims Program in Houston, TX. Presentment MUST be made at least 90 days before a lawsuit is filed and your suit must be filed before April 20th, 2013, i.e., before the three-year statue of limitations.

Valuation of community assets is determined as of time of trial on the merits of partition suit, as those assets can appreciate or depreciate in value. However, valuation of marital debt as of date of filing of divorce petition, and not as of date of trial on the merits of partition suit, was found proper, in Pitre v. Pitre, 501 So.2d 344 (La.App. 3 Cir.,1987).
If you hold an interest in any type of business partnership, the following ruling from the D’Spain case will impact the partitioning of your interests. Indeed, upon dissolution of community of acquets and gains in that case, the partner’s wife did not receive any interest in partnership, but was entitled only to one half of value of partner’s interest in partnership assets. D’Spain v. D’Spain, App. 5 Cir.1988, 527 So.2d 309. Here, proper timing, filings, and, potentially, the inclusion of an accounting expert or CPA will benefit your case. You will need an experienced attorney to ensure your business interests are protected.

Contact Thornhill Law Firm for advice and assistance in this important area of domestic/family law.

BP claims and claimants:

The trial against BP, Halliburton and Trans Ocean is set for trial January 14, 2013, to determine punitive damages owed under the maritime law. In a true limitaions action, the unresolved issues include claims among the defendants for which Judge Barbier will apply various laws, e.g., admiralty law and the Oil Field Pollution Act. The trial on punitive damages may enhance your claims under the pending settlement of economics and medicals claims. Settlement of your claims under the pending settlement will bar all future claims against BP and the long list of defendants who are beneficiaries of the transaction and compromise. For more information on the list ofclaims barred by the settlement or your rights in the pending multi-district litigation, contact Thornhill Law Firm.

International Paper and Temple-Inland: Bogalusa paper mill suits filed: