A federal appeals court has upheld a $21 million jury award to the owner of a New Orleans grocery chain that sustained damage in 2005 from Hurricane Katrina. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit also ordered United Fire & Casualty Insurance Co. to pay Marc Robert II, Robert’s Fresh Market’s owner, an additional $1 million in “bad faith” penalties.
The grocery chain had five stores around New Orleans and one in Kenner that were damaged by the 2005 storm. A jury awarded money to cover building damage, business interruption, tenant improvements and loss of business personal property from windstorm and from vandalism, theft or looting. The Kenner store reopened in November 2005. Three stores – including one closed before the hurricane, and another for which Mr. Robert lost the lease because he ran out of money to pay $30,000 a month rent – will not reopen. Mr. Robert says he hopes to reopen the fifth store once he gets money from the judgment and an agreement on repairs with the building’s owners, who were awarded $1 million – half for lost rent and half in penalties.
Mr. Robert has a separate lawsuit against the insurer for a sixth store, which reopened in November. Philip Franco, a lawyer with the firm of Adams and Reese, who represented the Plaintiffs, had this to say:
The verdict was completely upheld and the court awarded us an additional $900,000 to $1 million under the penalty statues. Basically, we won every issue on appeal.
It’s good to see Katrina insurance company victims receiving justice in the court system. Phil Franco should be commended for his persistence in representing his clients.
Source: Insurance Journal
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