Nearly 1,000 NJ Sandy victims have sued flood insurance providers

Nearly 1,000 Hurricane Sandy victims in New Jersey have filed lawsuits against their flood insurance providers since late 2013, and that number is expected to double in the next year, according to a report on U.S. District Court Clerk’s Office said there have been 974 Sandy-related civil cases filed in New Jersey, and officials anticipate that number will reach 2,000 before long. The caseload is so intense that Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle was tasked with creating a special plan to resolve cases within a median period of six months, the report said.The spike in lawsuits was noticed about a year after Sandy, the report said, when many homeowners received compensation that was inadequate to cover the damage that the storm wreaked upon their homes.There were also disputes over denied claims, when insurers attributed damage to winds, or any other cause not related to rising waters, the report said. The cases were filed against some 90 private insurance companies, which work with FEMA to provide flood insurance to residents and businesses.In New York, where another 1,000 residents have filed lawsuits, experts found that homeowners have received fewer than 50 percent of the claims filed with flood insurance companies.Simandle created a committee of two district court and six magistrate judges to make recommendations on how to manage the deluge of lawsuits. The committee established a six-month goal from the time of a filing to disposition of the case, the report said.The committee consulted with the federal court for the Eastern District of New York, which established a similar plan, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, which experienced a surge in lawsuits after Hurricane Katrina, the report said.