Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s board of directors voted Thursday to negotiate settlements in two class-action lawsuits related to claims from hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
One lawsuit, which claims Citizens took too long to pay claims after the storms, involves 12,000 to 14,000 policyholders, Chief Executive Officer Richard Robertson said.
The other involves 7,800 policyholders who say Citizens took too long to begin adjusting claims after the storms. It’s the second phase of a lawsuit Citizens lost and ended up paying $104.6 million ($92.8 million plus legal interest) to the 18,573 policyholders affected
“The bottom line is the board would really like to get these claims resolved and move forward,” Robertson said.
The board appointed attorneys Darren Patin and James Babst to negotiate the first settlement. Board members James Napper, Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish and Sen. Eric Lafleur were appointed to negotiate the second.
Robertson said the teams can negotiate but any agreement must be approved by the full board. He said he does not know how much the settlements might cost the insurer.
The negotiating teams are expected to report to the board at its next meeting, set for Sept. 13.
In other action, the board approved Robertson’s request to ask the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office to reduce the fee it received for seizing the earlier $104.6 million settlement from Citizens. The Sheriff’s Office’s fee was $5.9 million.
Robertson said the percentage is set by state law, so he doesn’t know how much leeway the Sheriff’s Office has to reduce the fee.