Superstorm Sandy: Appraisal Issues Begin to Hit the Dockets

N.J. Homeowner Sues to Compel Appraisal in Superstorm Sandy Coverage Dispute

 

McCann v. Hartford Insurance Company of the Midwest, No. 13-7067 (D. N.J.): This story was recently posted on the HarrisMartin Publishing website, www.harrismartin.com, and seems to be the beginning of what may be a storm of Appraisal related litigation hitting the local Courts’ Dockets. What is noteworthy in this case is that the policyholder is actually an Attorney, so this may explain why this is one of the “first” examples of an Appraisal stemming from Superstorm Sandy seeking the Courts to compel Appraisal. As recently as November 20th, the complaint was removed to U.S District Court and is seeking the Court to Compel Hartford Insurance Company to proceed with the policyholder’s invoke of the Policy’s Appraisal Clause. Due to the extreme difficulties policyholder advocates have been facing in attempting to invoke Appraisal on any Sandy related claims, we will be following this case to see what develops.

 

CAMDEN, N.J. — A New Jersey attorney whose home sustained flood damage during Superstorm Sandy has sued Hartford Insurance Co. of the Midwest for its refusal to appoint an appraiser to resolve a dispute over coverage for the loss.

Shanna McCann sued Hartford in Cumberland County Superior Court, alleging that the insurer paid approximately $30,000 less than the amount she says is necessary to repair the damage to her Somers Point, N.J., property.

McCann also alleges that the insurer has refused to pay for nearly $10,000 worth of contents that were damaged by Sandy floodwaters, and has so far failed to respond to her request for coverage of $17,800 in emergency remediation work performed by Advanced Restoration.

Hartford sold McCann a flood policy that provided $250,000 in building coverage and $100,000 for contents. It agreed to pay McCann $41,299, although she estimated that Sandy caused $74,900 in building damage. Because McCann’s policy contained a $2,000 deductible for contents coverage, her net recovery for contents damaged by Sandy was zero after Hartford estimated her loss to be $852, according to the lawsuit.

McCann appointed an appraiser in July and requested that the matter proceed under the provision of Submission to Appraisers clause in her policy. The suit says, however, that Hartford indicated in a September letter to McCann that it was declining to participate in the appraisal process or submit her claim to an appraisal in order to resolve the coverage discrepancy.

The complaint, which was removed to U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on Nov. 20, seeks an order compelling Hartford to proceed with the Submission to Appraisers process, in addition to reimbursement for fees and costs.

 

McCann is represented by Deana L. Walsh of Chance & McCann in Bridgeton, N.J.

McCann v. Hartford Insurance Company of the Midwest, No. 13-7067 (D. N.J.).

Complaint Ref# SAN-1311-08

  1 comment for “Superstorm Sandy: Appraisal Issues Begin to Hit the Dockets

  1. Thoms
    November 30, 2013 at 1:14 am

    I was able to obtain a copy of the Ordering Schedule, for review:

    Case 1:13-cv-07067-NLH-KMW Document 6 Filed 11/22/13 Page 1 of 6 PageID: 95

    UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
    FOR THE District of New Jersey [LIVE]
    U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

    SHANNA MCCANN
    Plaintiff,
    v. Case No.:
    1:13-cv-07067-NLH-KMW
    Magistrate Judge Karen M.
    Williams
    HARTFORD INSURANCE COMPANY
    OF THE MIDWEST
    Defendant.

    ORDER FOR SCHEDULING CONFERENCE

    TO: All Counsel

    IT IS on this Day November 22, 2013 ORDERED THAT:

    (1) A Scheduling Conference shall be conducted before the undersigned at the Mitchell H.
    Cohen Building &U.S. Courthouse in Camden, Room 2040 on January 30, 2014 at 11:00
    AM. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 16 and Local Civil Rule 16.1. The purpose of the conference is to
    focus counsel’s attention on the issues actually in dispute and arrive at a schedule to
    manage discovery. The Court strives in all cases for a just, speedy and inexpensive
    determination of every action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 1. COUNSEL MUST BE PREPARED TO
    COMPLETE ALL DISCOVERY AND BE READY FOR TRIAL WITHIN SIX (6) TO
    EIGHT (8) MONTHS OF THE SCHEDULING CONFERENCE IN MOST CASES. The
    Scheduling Order will reflect these goals.
    (2) The form and timing of the disclosure requirements in Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 (a)(1) and L.
    Civ. R. 26.1 shall be followed. COUNSEL SHOULD NOT FILE THEIR DISCLOSURE
    ON CM/ECF.
    (3) At least twenty-one (21) days prior to the conference scheduled herein, counsel shall
    confer pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 (f). The parties shall submit a Joint Discovery Plan to
    the undersigned using the attached form no later than the time period provided for in
    L.Civ.R. 26.1(b)(2). Prior to the Rule 26 (f) conference, counsel shall also comply with
    Local Civil Rule 26.1 (d) concerning discovery of digital information. The form to be used
    for the Joint Discovery Plan can be retrieved from:
    http://www.njd.uscourts.gov/forms/R16DiscoveryPlanCamONLY.pdf.
    (4) Counsel are further advised that unless the parties stipulate otherwise, and the Court
    concurs, the Rules limit the number of interrogatories (25) and depositions (10) which
    each party may seek. See Rules 26 (b), (d). Fed. R. Civ. P. 30 (d) (2) limits depositions to
    one day of seven hours. The Court may also regulate the conduct of depositions. See Hall
    v. Clifton Precision, 150 F.R.D. 525 (E.D. PA. 1993); Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(d) (1).
    (5) At the conference with the Court, all parties who are not appearing pro se shall be
    represented by counsel who shall be familiar with the file and shall have full authority to

    Case 1:13-cv-07067-NLH-KMW Document 6 Filed 11/22/13 Page 2 of 6 PageID: 96

    bind their clients in all pre-trial matters. Counsel shall also be prepared to discuss
    settlement. Clients or persons with authority over the matter shall be available by
    telephone. See Local Civil Rule 16.1 (a)(4);

    (6) Counsel shall consult with their clients before the conference and be prepared to advise
    the Magistrate Judge whether the parties consent to trial before the Magistrate Judge.
    Local Civil Rule 73.1 (a).
    (7) Counsel shall discuss with clients the Court’s mediation program. L.Civ.R. 301.1 (see
    attached notice). The Court will discuss mediation and other ADR options at the Initial
    Scheduling Conference.
    (8) Counsel for plaintiff(s) shall notify any party who hereafter enters an appearance, of
    the above conference and forward to that party a copy hereof, together with a copy of any
    Scheduling Order entered as a result of this conference.
    (9) The parties shall advise the District Judge and Magistrate Judge immediately if this
    matter has been settled or terminated so that the above conference may be cancelled.
    (10) Failure to comply with the terms hereof may result in the imposition of sanctions.
    (11) Counsel are further advised that communications to the Court by FAX will be
    accepted. All communications to the Court shall be in writing or by telephone conference
    with prior approval.
    Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams

    Case 1:13-cv-07067-NLH-KMW Document 6 Filed 11/22/13 Page 3 of 6 PageID: 97

    ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
    IN THE
    UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
    FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY

    Mediation is the Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) program in this Court. Mediation
    is governed by Local Civil Rule 301.1. The mediation program under this rule is
    supervised by a judicial officer (at present United States Magistrate Judge Madeline
    Cox-Arleo) who is available to answer any questions about the program.

    Any district judge or magistrate judge may refer a civil action to mediation. This may be
    done without the consent of the parties. However, the Court encourages parties to confer
    among themselves and consent to mediation. Moreover, you are reminded that, when
    counsel confer pursuant to Rule 26 (f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local
    Civil Rule 26.1, one of the topics that must be addressed is the eligibility of a civil action
    for participation in ADR.

    A civil action may be referred to mediation at any time. However, one of the advantages of
    mediation is that, if successful, it enables parties to avoid the time and expense of
    discovery and trial. Accordingly, the Court encourages parties to consent to mediation prior
    to or at the time that automatic disclosures are made pursuant to Rule 26 (a) (1) of the
    Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

    If parties consent to mediation, they may choose a mediator either from the list of certified
    mediators maintained by the Court or by the selection of a private mediator. If a civil action
    is referred to mediation without consent of the parties, the judicial officer responsible for
    supervision of the program will select the mediator.

    Mediation is non-judgmental. The role of the mediator is to assist the parties in reaching a
    resolution of their dispute. The parties may confer with the mediator on an ex parte basis.
    Anything said to the mediator will be deemed to be confidential and will not be revealed to
    another party or to others without the party’s consent. The mediator’s hourly rate is
    $300.00, which is borne equally by the parties.

    If you would like further information with regard to the mediation program please review
    the Guidelines for Mediation, which are available on the Court’s Web Site
    http://www.njd.uscourts.gov and appear as Appendix Q to the Local Civil Rules. You may also
    make inquiries of the judicial officer responsible for supervision of the program.

    Civil actions in which there are pro se parties (incarcerated or not) are not eligible for
    mediation.

    Case 1:13-cv-07067-NLH-KMW Document 6 Filed 11/22/13 Page 4 of 6 PageID: 98

    UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
    DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY

    SHANNA MCCANN
    Plaintiff,

    v.
    Case No.:
    1:13-cv-07067-NLH-KMW
    Judge Noel L. Hillman

    HARTFORD INSURANCE COMPANY

    OF THE MIDWEST

    Defendant.

    JOINT PROPOSED DISCOVERY PLAN

    A fillable copy of this form can be located at
    http://www.njd.uscourts.gov/forms/R16DiscoveryPlanCamONLY.pdf

    1. Set forth the name of each attorney appearing, the firm name, address and telephone
    number and facsimile number of each, designating the party represented.
    2. Set forth a brief description of the case, including the causes of action and defenses
    asserted.
    3. Have settlement discussions taken place? Yes __________ No __________
    (a) What was plaintiff’s last demand?
    (1) Monetary demand: $ ___________
    (2) Non-monetary demand: __________
    (b) What was defendant’s last offer?
    (1) Monetary offer: $ ___________
    (2) Non-monetary offer: __________
    4.
    The parties [have __________ have not __________] met pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.
    26(f):
    5. The parties [have ______ have not ______ ] exchanged the information required by
    Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(1). If not, state the reason therefor.
    6. Explain any problems in connection with completing the disclosures required by Fed.
    R. Civ. P. 26(a)(1)
    7. The parties [have __________ have not __________] conducted discovery other than
    the above disclosures. If so, describe.
    8. Proposed Joint Discovery Plan:
    (a) Discovery is needed on the following subjects:
    (b) Discovery [should __________ should not __________] be conducted in phases
    or be limited to particular issues. Explain.

    Case 1:13-cv-07067-NLH-KMW Document 6 Filed 11/22/13 Page 5 of 6 PageID: 99

    (c) Proposed schedule:
    (1) Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 Disclosures ____________________________.
    (2) E-Discovery conference pursuant to L. Civ. R. 26.1(d)_________________.
    (3) Service of initial written discovery _____________________________.
    (4) Maximum of _____ Interrogatories by each party to each other party.
    (5) Maximum of _____ depositions to be taken by each party.
    (6) Motions to amend or to add parties to be filed by ____________.
    (7) Factual discovery to be completed by ______________________.
    (8) Plaintiff’s expert report due on ________________________________.
    (9) Defendant’s expert report due on ________________________________.
    (10) Expert depositions to be completed by ____________________.
    (11) Dispositive motions to be filed by __________.
    (d) Set forth any special discovery mechanism or procedure requested.
    (e) A pretrial conference may take place on __________________________.
    (f) Trial date: ______________________ (______Jury Trial; _____ Non-Jury Trial).
    9. Do you anticipate any special discovery needs (i.e., videotape/telephone depositions,
    problems with out-of-state witnesses or documents, etc)? Yes _______No_______.
    If so, please explain.
    10. Do you anticipate any issues about disclosure or discovery of electronically stored
    information, including the form or forms in which it should be produced?
    Yes _______ No _______.
    If so, how will electronic discovery or data be disclosed or produced? Describe any
    agreements reached by the parties regarding same, including costs of discovery, production,
    related software, licensing agreements, etc.

    11. Do you anticipate entry of a Discovery Confidentiality Order? See L.Civ.R. 5.3(b)
    and Appendix S.
    Yes ________ No _______.
    12. Do you anticipate any discovery problem(s) not listed above? Describe.
    Yes ________ No _______.
    13. State whether this case is appropriate for voluntary arbitration (pursuant to Local
    Civil Rule 201.1 or otherwise) or mediation (pursuant to Local Civil Rule 301.1 or
    otherwise). If not, explain why and state whether any such procedure may be appropriate at

    Case 1:13-cv-07067-NLH-KMW Document 6 Filed 11/22/13 Page 6 of 6 PageID: 100

    a later time (i.e., after exchange of pretrial disclosures, after completion of depositions, after
    disposition or dispositive motions, etc.).

    14. Is this case appropriate for bifurcation? Yes __________ No __________
    15. An interim status/settlement conference (with clients in attendance), should be held in
    _______________________________________.
    16. We [do __________ do not __________] consent to the trial being conducted by a
    Magistrate Judge.
    17. Identify any other issues to address at the Rule 16 Scheduling Conference.
    Attorney(s) for Plaintiff(s) / Date

    Attorney(s) for Defendant(s) / Date

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