In the past, we’ve discussed whether homeowner insurance policies will be liable for Chinese Drywall damages. This week, Judge Medley in Orleans Parish Civil District Court gave Louisiana it’s first answer holding that the exclusions relied upon by the Defendant insurance companies didn’t make the cut.
Of course, the Defendant insurance company (Audubon Insurance Co) will appeal this ruling, but this is a really great first step for plaintiffs who are looking everywhere for a solution to Chinese Drywall woes.
So, which exact exclusions were adjudicated?
The pollution exclusion, which Judge Medley rejected based upon the Louisiana Supreme Court’s treatment of such clauses in cases like Doerr v. Mobil Oil Corp, which qualifies the pollution exclusion in insurance policies to only cover “environmental damage.”
The “latent defect” exclusion was also rejected, with Medley ruling that the clause didn’t apply because the drywall itself wasn’t a latent defect. The drywall worked just fine as actual drywall, and therfore, wasn’t a latent defect in itself.
Homeowners Ought to Act Fact to Make Claims
In December 2009, we wrote that “Fast Action” was required for homeowners to make Chinese Drywall claims against their homeowners insurance policies. Why? Because policy-holders in Louisiana only have one year to bring claims (and file a lawsuit to enforce the claim) from when they knew or should have known of the loss.
Many homeowners are not making claims because they’re concerned about having their insurance policies cancelled. Certainly, this is an issue as Louisiana insurance companies have already begun canceling policies on homes with contaminated drywall. The danger cannot be explained away, but there are two important things to remember about this: (1) policies are being cancelled regardless of whether claims are being made; and (2) homeowners insurance may be your best bet for fast recovery of drywall damages.
The particular case decided by Judge Medley isn’t part of the federal MDL (or class action). Like many other homeowners with these problems, the plaintiffs in that case are seeking remedies against their builder and insurer through individual actions in state court. As evidenced by the Medley decision, these actions are being adjudicated and are posting successful results.