August 21, 2013

THE OCTOBER 1, 2013, REAL ESTATE CRASH!

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.

Continue reading "THE OCTOBER 1, 2013, REAL ESTATE CRASH!" »

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April 11, 2013

BP Deadlines

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.

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January 18, 2013

MetLife settles allegations on auto accident surcharges (Boston Globe)

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.

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December 31, 2012

BP Seafood Compensation Payments Deadline

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 more information, and/or to submit a Seafood Compensation Program Claim, please visit: www.deepwaterhorizonsettlements.com

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December 31, 2012

Umpire Rules

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:

The duty of the umpire under the terms of the insurance policy was to ascertain and determine, in the exercise of his own best judgment, the cash value of the items of property which the appraisers had disagreed, independent of the findings of the appraisers, or either of them… The umpire is required to act with the appraisers in matters of difference. He is the third appraiser. If the three are of one mind, or if two of them are is accord as to value and loss, the appraisal award is a finality. Providence Lloyds Ins. Co. v. Crystal City Ind. School Dist., 877 S.W. 2d 872 (Tex.App.-San Antonio 1994).a>

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October 26, 2012

Deadline To File BP Claim Quickly Approaching

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.

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October 18, 2012

Important Legal Tips for the Earning, Professional Spouse in Regards to Property Valuation and Partition

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.

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October 2, 2012

Your Right to Modify/Revisit Child Support

In the recent case of Hernandez v. Hernandez, the payor-father successfully showed a change in circumstance sufficient to convince the trial and appellate courts to modify his child support obligation where expenses he had assumed had increased and shared expenses had increased, where his savings was nearly depleted in paying expenses, and where the payee-mother's income increase exceeded his. Are you the payor-parent seeking to so reduce your child support obligation? Or, are you the payee-parent who feels there has been a change in circumstance sufficient to increase your child support?

Contact Thornhill Law Firm with these or any other questions involving your potential Family Law issues.

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September 26, 2012

Your Entitlement to Spousal Support and Recovery for Community Property

In the recent case of Lacombe v. Lacomb, the ex-wife's entitlement to final spousal support was recognized by the court as her motion for same was filed with the time permitted by law. Might you have such a claim? Also, the ex-wife's listing of community assets and liabilities was accepted and conformed by the court as her ex-husband had not timely challenged her listing of same. Have you yet partitioned community property, for which you may be entitled to recovery?

Contact Thornhill Law Firm with these or any other questions involving your potential Family Law issues.

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September 7, 2012

Hurricane Isaac: Commercial Property, Business Interruption, & Residential Damages

WIND INSURANCE CLAIMS
How do I know if my wind insurance company acted improperly?
Under Louisiana Law, the following are unfair or deceptive acts by your insurance company:
-To misrepresent the terms of the policy;
-To misrepresent the benefits or advantages promised by the policy.
-To misrepresent a material fact or policy provision relating to coverage at issue;
-Failing to attempt in good faith to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement.

How do I know what is included?
Computerized claims adjustment has become the norm, with many adjusters using faulty adjustment programs, which undervaluate the claims.

Is my claim subject to depreciation?
In some cases, no, because replacement coverage gives you full recovery of the insured’s cost of rebuilding.

Can I recover on both fold and wind policies?
Yes if you have both flood and wind damages.

INFORMATION AFFECTING FLOOD AND BUSINESS INTERRUPTION CLAIMS
Fifth Circuit Holds the Insurer is Entitled to Summary Judgment Where No Sworn Proof of Loss for Flood Damage

You must file a Sworn Proof of Loss in a form acceptable to the Insurer – On time – or you lose your claim!

Rigid Proof of Loss requirements apply to flood damages. Your Proof of Loss must be accompanied by details of estimate(s) that support the proof – so you may need experts to prepare the claim in order to fully recover.

Business Interruption claims require an expert business evaluation by a CPA to avoid loss of benefits. The loss of income due under the policy is subject to specific definitions in the contract and the law. You may need our experts to prepare your claim.

LOUISIANA CITIZENS
LA Citizens purpose is to provide Louisiana citizens adequate wind and hail coverage when it is not available in the insurance marketplace; and pay insured’s claims when losses occur.

La Citizens was designed to serve the customer who has no other market available, but it operates under standard insurance protocols in adjusting your claim.

Form 95 Claims – USACE Claims must be timely filed under Form 95 to pursue collection caused by levees built by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

Contact the Thornhill Law Frim Now! We were there for the victims of Ike, Katrina, and Rita, and we are here to provide our services & experience for the victims of Hurricane Isaac.

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August 27, 2012

BP and Temple-Inland Status Update

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:
Hundreds of individual claims were filed in Mississippi federal and state courts to recover reasonable compensation for the discharges of toxic substances onto the land of individual property owners residing in Mississippi. The claimants show that there was no right to discharge onto their land any contaminants and that the cost of clean up should be born by the contaminating entities. Among the claims in the newly filed suits, the pleadings show that approximately one year ago, Temple Inland, dba TIN, Inc., with knowledge that its waste water treatment system was unable to clean out contaminants, knowingly and recklessly discharged untreated wastes into the Pearl River, forming the boundary between Louisiana and Mississippi. The discharges onto private land were expressly not permitted by any regulatory agency. In addition, the limited and restricted permits into the water of the Pearl River did not include authority to discharge dioxins, phenols and other semi-volatile organic compounds. These claims by Mississippi residents add International Paper as a defendant for its ongoing role in the continual unauthorized discharges and its liability for acts of Temple Inland which it purchased on February 13, 2012.

In Louisiana federal court, the claims of Louisiana claimants for similar damages to their property are set for trail on December 10, 2012 for eight bellwether claimants. A jury will decide damages due for the dischareges onto land which were not authorized and prohibited on lands of private property owners. The limited and restricted permit of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality expressly advises TIN, Inc. and/or International Paper, the permit holders, that there is not authority given to discharge onto private property. No authority exists for the continued trespasses of the paper mill operation.

Estimates of clean-up costs from land owners and the river bottom exceed $30 million. The cost avoidance that led to the inability of the waste water treatment system to treat and clean the waste from paper making is the amount not spent by TIN, Inc, to maintain its treatment ponds, that total $160 to $200 million. Compensatory and punitive damages are claimed against Temple Inland in the pending Louisiana and Mississippi suits.

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May 9, 2012

Succession and the Transmission of Property in Louisiana

In Louisiana, Succession is the transmission of the estate of a deceased person to his successors. La. C.C. art. 871. The successors thus have the right to take possession of the estate of the deceased after complying with applicable provisions of law. Succession occurs at the death of a person. La. C.C. art. 934. There are two kinds of successions: Testate and Intestate. When this transmission is done by operation of law, it is called intestate succession. When it is done through the provisions of a will (also called a testament), it is called testate succession. La. C.C. arts. 873-875. The estate of a deceased person means the property, rights and obligations that a person leaves after his death, whether the property exceeds the charges or the charges exceed the property, or whether he has only left charges without any property. The estate includes not only the rights and obligations of the deceased as they exist at the time of death, but all that has accrued thereto since death and the new charges to which it becomes subject. The estate in Louisiana, however, has no separate legal existence like a corporation or partnership does. In re Succession of Moore, No. 97-1668 (La.App. 4th Cir. 1998), 737 So.2d 749. The successors to a deceased person’s estate are called heirs when there is intestate succession and legatees when there is testate succession. La. C.C. art. 876. The right to take possession of property, whether the person receiving the property is an heir or a legatee, does not arise automatically. In Louisiana, the heirs or legatees must comply with certain provisions of the law. Usufruct is the right to use property during the existence of the usufruct period to the exclusion of the owners of the property. La C.C. arts. 535, 539. In Louisiana, it is actually a limitation on the right of ownership, where the right to use the property is granted to a person different than the owner. The owner of property subject to a usufruct is called the naked owner. Forced heirs are descendants of the first degree who, at the time of the death of the decedent, are twenty-three years of age or younger or descendants of the first degree of any age, who, because of mental incapacity or physical infirmity, are permanently incapable of taking care of their person or administering their estates at the time of the death of the decedent. A person is twenty-three years of age or younger until he/she attains the age of twenty-four years. The existence of forced heirs is irrelevant if there is no testament left by the decedent.

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