State Farm Settles Katrina Lawsuit in Mississippi on Day of Trial

June 7, 2007

State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. agreed Monday to settle a Mississippi policyholder’s lawsuit over Hurricane Katrina damage before a jury could be picked to try the case.

Terms of the settlement between State Farm and the policyholder, Michael McCoy of Pass Christian, were not disclosed. The agreement was reached before a jury could be selected Monday.

McCoy was seeking full payment of his claim, $189,402, plus $5 million in punitive damages.

Jack Denton, one of McCoy’s attorneys, said his client was pleased to resolve the case.

“This is one that we thought we were going to try,” Denton said. “There had been no movement toward a settlement (before Monday).”

State Farm says flood, which the company doesn’t cover, reduced McCoy’s house to a slab. The company recently sent McCoy $8,354 for “speculative wind damage.” That should replace his roof shingles, State Farm says, less the deductible, according to court records.

State Farm has settled several other cases either during or shortly before trials were scheduled to start.

“We’re pleased that this allows our customers and our company to avoid the potential of lengthy and costly litigation,” State Farm spokesman Phil Supple said following Monday’s settlement.

In January, a jury in the first Katrina-related trial against State Farm awarded $2.5 million in punitive damages to plaintiffs Norman and Genevieve Broussard. A judge later reduced the award to $1 million.

In another case heard in federal court in Gulfport, State Farm agreed to settle for an undisclosed amount after a jury awarded Biloxi City Councilman Ed Gemmill $66,234 for damage.

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