The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (“EDNY”), in an effort to more efficiently administer the multitude of insurance coverage cases involving Hurricane Sandy claims, entered an Order on January 10, 2014, directing the Clerk to open a “Miscellaneous Civil Case” for all actions seeking insurance coverage for damages caused by Hurricane Sandy. The Miscellaneous Civil Case is titled: “In Re Hurricane Sandy Cases” and the EDNY Case Number is 14 MC 41.
A few days later, the Court issued an Order dated January 14, 2014, requiring counsel for plaintiffs in any related cases to file with the Court by January 17, 2014, “a schedule of all cases that counsel currently has filed in Brooklyn or Central Islip, or which they intend to file.” The “schedule” was to include the name of the plaintiff, the property address, the docket number, judge’s initials and the type of policy (i.e., wind, flood or both).
The January 14th Order also requires that counsel representing plaintiffs to file a letter by January 24, 2014 which contains a proposal of how they intend to logically group the cases for discovery and settlement purposes. The January 14th Order concludes by stating that Counsel for Defendants have until January 31, 2014, to file a response to the proposals.
It will be interesting to see how the Court decides to administer the cases as there are many legal and factual distinctions involved in Hurricane Sandy property insurance disputes. Some cases are against flood carriers, some are against wind carriers. There are cases based on a disagreement over the extent of damage and there are cases based on coverage issues. In some cases, repairs to the property have been performed; in some cases the property no longer exists. Claims may also involve a dispute about contents or business property coverage. Perhaps the Court will require that the parties exchange relevant information and documentation early on in the litigation so that the parties can promptly and efficiently evaluate the merits of their case; maybe the Court will set a timetable for completion of mediation and discovery.
The Court will discuss these issues at a conference on February 5, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. where all counsel are required to appear in person and be prepared to speak about their cases.
As a point of reference, the Eastern District of New York continually updates their web site with information concerning the Miscellaneous Civil Case. There you can read the two Practice and Procedure Orders which provide specific instructions for filing documents in the Miscellaneous Civil Case which apply to all related Hurricane Sandy cases, along with instructions for counsel who want to become admitted pro hac vice. Stay tuned for future blog posts which will address any additional orders entered by the Court and the latest developments of interest to New York policyholders involved in Hurricane Sandy claims.