Allstate Pays N.Y. Homeowners $995K for Plane Vibration Damage

January 9, 2008

Allstate Insurance Co. has agreed to pay $995,000 to a Brooklyn couple who claimed their house was badly damaged by vibrations caused by an Air France Concorde jet nearly five years ago.

The couple, John and Annette Ferranti, initially won a $1.15 million verdict against Allstate last month after a trial in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court. Allstate had filed a notice they would appeal the award.

Allstate’s lawyer, Bruce Farquharson, confirmed the settlement but said he could not comment further.

The Ferrantis sued after Allstate refused to pay for damage to their 12-room concrete and steel house created by vibrations from an Air France Concorde as it took off from John F. Kennedy airport on July 21, 2002.

They couple said the supersonic jet struggled to gain altitude, flew low over Jamaica Bay, and buzzed the areas near their home where other residents complained about shaking foundations and cracking plaster.

Following the ear-splitting takeoff, the Ferrantis said, their home began leaking during rainstorms. They said the water seeped through cracks that had opened in concrete blocks they used to build the waterfront house on Jamaica Bay in 1990.

Allstate had insured the house since John Ferranti, a retired general contractor, built it in 1990, said the Ferrantis’ lawyer, Jonathan J. Wilkofsky.

Wilkofsky said Allstate had refused to pay the Ferrantis’ claim, saying bad construction and poor maintenance had caused the leakage problem.

The lawyer said Allstate also argued that the couple’s late notice of claim precluded the insurer’s having to pay. The Ferrantis gave Allstate their notice of claim 14 months after the flight which caused the damage, Wilkofsky said.

After a three-week trial, which included testimony of six engineers and a noise expert from the Port Authority, the jury took five hours to return its verdict, Wilkofsky said. He said Allstate settled with the Ferrantis on Dec. 21.

The Concorde, which was used only by Air France and British Airways, was taken out of service by both carriers in 2003.

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