table of contents

1.       The Advocate, “Katrina's legal storm looms *** Suit claims damages for people without flood insurance,” January 29, 2006  2

2.       MARKETPLACE MORNING REPORT, “Law schools seeing opportunity through lack of attorneys with expertise in calamities,” January 17, 2006  5

3.       National Law Journal, “A call to action,” January 2, 2006  6

4.       The American Lawyer, “Good Samaritans, Muddy Waters; BarTalk,” January 2006  8

5.       National Underwriter, Property & Casualty/Risk & Benefits Management Edition, “Katrina Leads Pack Of Record Hurricanes,” December 19, 2005  12

6.       VNU Entertainment News Wire, “Multimedia Briefs,” December 19, 2005  14

7.       The Advocate, “Prisoners face 6 more weeks *** Prosecutors get more time to file charges,” November 24, 2005  15

 


 

 


 


1.    The Advocate, “Katrina's legal storm looms *** Suit claims damages for people without flood insurance,” January 29, 2006

 

4 of 59 DOCUMENTS

 

 

Copyright 2006 Capital City Press

All Rights Reserved

The Advocate

 

January 29, 2006 Sunday 

Main Edition

 

SECTION: A; Pg. 01

 

LENGTH: 1217 words

 

HEADLINE: Katrina's legal storm looms *** Suit claims damages for people without flood insurance

 

BYLINE: ADRIAN ANGELETTE; Advocate staff writer;

 

BODY:

Katrina's legal storm looms *** Suit claims damages for people without flood insurance

A court decision on whether all flood damage to homes in the New Orleans area is covered by standard homeowner's insurance could be only months away.

Then again, it could take years for the issue to make its way to trial and travel through the appeals process.

But even though homeowners would like a quick decision so they can decide whether to rebuild, an early ruling would almost certainly work against them, several legal experts said.

Less than a month after Hurricane Katrina struck southeast Louisiana on Aug. 29, attorneys filed suit in state court against a dozen insurers and the state insurance commissioner on behalf of 15 New Orleans residents.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys Jerry McKernan and Calvin Fayard Jr., asks a judge to order the commissioner to declare that Katrina damage will be covered by traditional homeowners' policies.

The insurance companies, asserting their policies don't cover flood damage, moved the case to federal court.

A fast resolution could mean disaster for homeowners without flood insurance, said Charles McCowan Jr., a Baton Rouge partner with the Kean Miller law firm, which isn't involved in the case.

Insurance companies want a judge to decide the issue strictly on the wording of the policies they have with homeowners, he said.

"Insurers are trying to make this a strict contract-interpretation case," McCowan said.

Such a ruling would probably be made without a full trial and be based on a literal interpretation of the policies. It could be done fairly quickly, even with appeals, he said.

McCowan, co-author of the textbook "Complex Louisiana Litigation," said homeowners want to avoid such a narrow approach.

"The plaintiffs in this want something other than an act of God, that this is not a flood in the traditional thought," McCowan said.

They are asking the courts to declare the flooding was caused by improper construction or design of the levees.

"They want it to be considered like an explosion at an auto plant that was caused by some negligent act," McCowan said.

Such an argument is known as "proximate cause," based on idea of "had it not been for...." In this case, had it not been for the problem levees, the argument goes, the flooding would never had occurred.

McCowan said other traditional defenses in insurance claims, such as ambiguous policies, would be much harder to prove in this instance. He said pretrial filings by Judy Barrasso, a New Orleans attorney for Liberty Mutual and Allstate insurance companies, seem to show the policies are clear about flooding.

"If the policy says what she says it says, there is going to be a heavy burden on the plaintiffs to claim ambiguity," McCowan said. "There is a presumption that people read what they get. There would almost have to be a showing that there was some misrepresentation."

The long haul

Homeowners are far more likely to be successful on an individual basis but that process could take much longer, experts have said.

Robert Hunter, insurance director for the Washington, D.C.,-based Consumer Federation of America, said he thinks the case is unlikely to be resolved with a quick, single decision that covers all homeowners.

Different issues will arise in individual claims, dictating a range of legal battlegrounds.

Hunter, a native of New Orleans who was director of the National Flood Insurance Program in the 1970s, said fights will occur over what kind of natural force caused which damage and should be covered by what type of policy.

"What was damaged by the wind and what was damaged by the water? There will have to be a determination of how much damage was caused by each," Hunter said.

Arguments will also be made that one type of force caused the other to do damage - "proximate cause" on a house-by-house basis, he said.

People could argue that had it not been for the 100 mph winds, the water wouldn't have been able to damage their homes, he said.

"There will be arguments about what really caused the damage, even if water was involved," he said.

Another argument that could cause insurance companies trouble is whether a policy is ambiguous, Hunter said. He said many insurance policies have deductibles for hurricane damage and at the same time contain language that says coverage is not provided for water damage.

"Some policyholders might be confused about what the insurance company meant by the word 'hurricane' if the policy does not cover water damage," Hunter said. "If it is confusing, the courts will find that it is the insurance company's fault."

Hunter said policyholders must be able to persuade a court that they are confused for legitimate reasons. He said insurance companies are just "putting their best argument forward" when they claim they do not cover flood damage under any circumstances.

"Insurance companies are not going to win all of these lawsuits, particularly if there is ambiguity," Hunter said.

Hunter also said faulty levee design or construction could weigh into the proximate cause arguments.

Hunter recalled that as director of the National Flood Insurance Program in the 1970s, he heard about problems with the levees.

"The Corps of Engineers briefed me about the problems with the levees back then," he said.

An alternative to court

Jim Donelon, an attorney with the Louisiana Department of Insurance, said the biggest problem with the single-lawsuit approach is there is no single fix for every ill.

"In St. Bernard Parish, there are problems with wind, water and oil," Donelon said. "We don't have the power to order a Solomon-like decision that applies to all claims."

He predicted it is unlikely that a judge will force the insurance companies to pay all claims in New Orleans.

"You can't make somebody pay for something that they were not contractually signed to do," Donelon said.

Instead of seeking to get all claims under a single umbrella, Donelon said, individuals should consider a mediation program the Insurance Department will begin next month.

In the program, property owners are allowed to provide evidence that the damage to their homes was caused by something other than water, he said.

"There are thousands who suffered wind damage who are being denied because the water came and covered up the damage caused before the flooding took place," Donelon said.

A mediator will decide how much money a property owner receives. The property owner would then be able to accept a check on the spot or reject the mediator's finding and sue, Donelon said.

"It's quick and easy compared to the judicial system," Donelon said.

He said getting money into people's hands is the best way to spur redevelopment efforts in hurricane-ravaged areas.

Louisiana Recovery Authority Director Andy Kopplin said people with mortgages must get their insurance claims resolved before they can begin rebuilding.

"Now the biggest issues are prompt payments and resolution of disputes," Kopplin said. "People want to know, 'How soon do I get my check, and how much do I get?'"

The case is now before U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola, who has told the more than two dozen attorneys working the case that he does not want the legal fight to drag on for two or three years.

His next step is to decide where the case will be heard. A status conference in the case is set for Feb. 6.

 

GRAPHIC: Color photo of an aerial view of the New Orleans Central Business District

 

LOAD-DATE: January 30, 2006


 



2.    MARKETPLACE MORNING REPORT, “Law schools seeing opportunity through lack of attorneys with expertise in calamities,” January 17, 2006

 

7 of 59 DOCUMENTS

 

 

Copyright 2006 Minnesota Public Radio.

All Rights Reserved

MARKETPLACE MORNING REPORT

 

SHOW: Marketplace Morning Report 6:50 AM EST SYND

 

January 17, 2006 Tuesday

 

LENGTH: 184  words

 

HEADLINE: Law schools seeing opportunity through lack of attorneys with expertise in calamities

 

ANCHORS: SCOTT JAGOW

 

REPORTERS: JANET BABIN

 

BODY:

SCOTT JAGOW, anchor:

Disasters like Hurricane Katrina pushed social service agencies to the limit. Attorneys with expertise in calamities were also in short supply. As Janet Babin reports, law schools see an opportunity there.

JANET BABIN reporting:

Many displaced by Katrina faced a second storm of legal problems. Without proof of identity, they couldn't file insurance claims or even make bank withdrawals. It was attorneys who helped victims wade through the bureaucracy and get re-established. Michael Grecco with the American Bar Association says while the problems facing Katrina survivors aren't always new, their scale has flooded the courts.

Mr. MICHAEL GRECCO (American Bar Association): These natural disasters are testing our system of justice in ways that have never been tested before.

BABIN: Law schools are responding to the growing need for disaster attorneys. UC Berkeley Law School is offering a course focusing on the legal fallout from Katrina. Students plan to generate an online resource center for victims. I'm Janet Babin for MARKETPLACE.

JAGOW: From American Public Media.

(Announcements)

 

LOAD-DATE: January 18, 2006


 



3.    National Law Journal, “A call to action,” January 2, 2006

 

9 of 59 DOCUMENTS

 

 

Copyright 2006 ALM Properties, Inc.

All Rights Reserved

National Law Journal

 

January 2, 2006

 

SECTION: PODIUM; Pg. P27 Vol. 27 No. 67

 

LENGTH: 800  words

 

HEADLINE: A call to action;

PODIUM;

PRO BONO;

Serving two purposes;

Meeting legal needs of the poor

 

BYLINE: Michael S. Greco; Special to The National Law Journal

 

BODY:

Michael S. Greco

Special to The National Law Journal

Michael S. Greco is the president of the American Bar Association. He is a partner in the Boston office of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham.

Like countless others, I became a lawyer because the legal profession offers uniquely powerful ways to contribute to the common good. As legal employers in recent years have had to adapt to an ever more competitive legal market, however, lawyers' opportunities to do pro bono work and public service have diminished. Lawyers today grapple with a difficult dilemma that previous generations of lawyers were spared: how to meet the demands of modern law practice and still fulfill their idealism and professional responsibility to give back to their communities.

Law firms, corporate law departments, government offices and other legal employers know that the answer to this question is crucial to the profession's future and the well-being of society, but the right answer is hard to come by and often requires trial and error. To help find an answer without costly experimentation, the new American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on the Renaissance of Idealism in the Legal Profession has developed a free, online Pro Bono and Public Service Best Practices Resource Guide, available at www.abanet.org/renaissance.

Serving two purposes

Lawyers now are needing more balance in their work to improve job satisfaction and hone important skills, and the poor in our country are suffering without adequate access to legal services. Pro bono and community public service programs help address both problems.

The National Law Journalthis week spotlights law firms that have attained greater equilibrium between the legal profession's public interest history and current business realities. It is thus an opportune moment for other law firms to contemplate how they can better achieve this goal.

Nevertheless, enhancing the opportunities to do pro bono and public service in the legal workplace is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Factors such as the type of one's law practice, office size, location and other issues make it difficult to design programs that best meet the needs of lawyers and the communities they serve.

That's why the ABA's Best Practices Guide, a clearinghouse of information describing more than 160 successful pro bono and public service programs from all practice areas throughout the United States, is such a powerful tool. Legal employers interested in implementing pro bono or public service initiatives may draw on the ideas and experiences of others to tailor the most effective program for their organizations.

Those who already have implemented successful projects may submit them online for inclusion in the guide and thereby make a valuable contribution to the profession and people in need. The Best Practices Guide is fully searchable and easy to use.

While establishing pro bono and public service programs in the legal workplace can be good for business, lawyers must never forget that we always have had a special responsibility to society. More than ever, our country needs our services, and this is the real reason that we now must free up lawyers' time to do more.

Meeting legal needs of the poor

I urge lawyers across the country to use the Best Practices Guide as a resource, and when they think about projects that would work best for their firms, also consider that 70% to 80% of the legal needs of the poor in America go unmet every year, a sad fact in a country with such vast resources. The devastation wrought by hurricanes Katrina and Rita?the legal reverberations of which will be felt for years to come?have greatly compounded this problem.

Browse the model programs online in the Best Practices Guide, and as you contemplate the amount of time that you can free up for your lawyers to perform work in the public interest, remind yourself that legal principles and institutions forming the bedrock of our justice system, such as habeas corpus and a judiciary free from political influence, are being challenged now as never before. Lawyers are best equipped to defend the judicial system that protects us all, but they need workplace programs that give them the time and opportunity to do so.

It is time for lawyers to balance our professional interests with the public interest. The needs of society, and the future of our profession, depend on it. Visit the ABA Commission's Web site, implement one or more of the programs in the Best Practices Guide and help other firms by submitting your own. I guarantee that the lawyers in your firm, our profession and the American people will thank you for doing so. And so will I.

Michael S. Greco is the president of the American Bar Association. He is a partner in the Boston office of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham.

 

LOAD-DATE: January 9, 2006


 



4.    The American Lawyer, “Good Samaritans, Muddy Waters; BarTalk,” January 2006

 

10 of 59 DOCUMENTS

 

 

Copyright 2006 ALM Properties, Inc.

All Rights Reserved

The American Lawyer

 

January 2006

 

SECTION: BARTALK Vol. 28

 

LENGTH: 2698  words

 

HEADLINE: Good Samaritans, Muddy Waters;

BarTalk;

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, a dedicated team of legal services lawyers sail on. The sea of need is so great, and their boat is so small.

 

BYLINE: Brenda Sandburg

 

BODY:

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, a dedicated team of legal services lawyers sail on. The sea of need is so great, and their boat is so small.

By Brenda Sandburg

On a sunny day in late November, Marisa Katz drives east from downtown New Orleans to Chalmatte, one of the areas most ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Houses stand forlornly along the road, their windows broken and insides gutted. Gas stations and stores are boarded up. There are no pedestrians in sight.

Katz, a 28-year-old attorney with New Orleans Legal Assistance (NOLAC), pulls into the edge of a shopping center next to a large white tent, one of the disaster relief centers set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She walks through the tent door past a pair of swaggering men in military fatigues. They are members of Blackwater USA, a private security contractor known for its work in Iraq, who have been hired to guard FEMA staff. Yet the people who trudge into the center are hardly threatening as they wait for hours to fill out applications for trailers and financial aid.

Wedged between groups offering Medicaid and insurance information, Katz and her NOLAC colleagues take four-hour shifts, answering questions and signing up clients who can't afford a lawyer. A woman stops by whose mortgage company had dropped her flood insurance coverage. An elderly couple asks if they should continue paying their mortgage since they won't be rebuilding their house.

"Being part of Legal Assistance has been psychologically helpful," Katz tells the reporter accompanying her. She recalls talking to a young man who found his parents drowned in their attic. "There are a million stories like that," she says.

The primary legal aid group in New Orleans, NOLAC provides a lifeline for the legions of hurricane victims now being cut a raw deal by landlords and insurance companies. NOLAC lawyers are especially sensitive because they, too, have been devastated by the storm. Seventy-five percent of the group's employees lost their houses, and many had to leave the city, reducing the number of staff attorneys from 30 to 23.

"When you've lost your own home, it's hard to think straight," says Mark Moreau, a 28-year veteran?and co?executive director?of NOLAC. Moreau, whose house was engulfed in a seven-foot wall of water, is living with relatives. "It's so hard to get things done without computers and e-mail and support staff and with the courts being closed," he says.

The group also lost its Chalmatte outpost in the storm, and did not return to the site of the wreckage until early December. Wearing masks, Katz, Moreau, and two other staffers slogged through thick mud up to their second-floor office to find the ceilings and one wall caved in. They were able to salvage a few papers among the moldy files.

Founded in 1967, NOLAC receives most of its $3.3 million annual funding from Legal Services Corp., a nonprofit established by Congress to give poor people access to lawyers. Before Katrina hit, NOLAC had 3,000 cases, ranging from housing and workplace disputes to domestic violence cases and child custody battles. Their clients have now scattered around the country, along with witnesses and opposing attorneys, so most of these matters are on hold indefinitely.

In its new incarnation, NOLAC is now primarily helping people fight evictions. More than 10,000 people were reportedly evicted in November, after Governor Kathleen Blanco's two-month moratorium on legal proceedings came to an end. With housing scarce, landlords who had been renting property for $375 per month can now get $1,000 from construction workers contracted by FEMA.

It's an uphill struggle for the public defenders. For example, NOLAC won a victory in mid-November, when a judge ruled that the residents of a trailer park could not be removed for nonpayment of rent. But afterward the landlord served the residents a ten-day notice to leave. "There's little defense to no-cause evictions," Moreau says. "All we can do is buy them some time."

Three months after Katrina pounded into New Orleans, the city has an air of hopeless desperation. The residents of the Lower Ninth Ward were not allowed back into the area until December 1. While many shops in the French Quarter and business district have opened, the main roads out of town lead to devastated, deserted swaths of land. People in white suits and masks gather up mounds of debris on the sidewalks and medians. As you follow Orleans Avenue to the north and Tulane Avenue to the west?past the university and fortress-like criminal courthouse?there is a strong odor of rot. Outside a house in Chalmatte, a waterlogged book lies on the sidewalk. Its faded title:The Millionaire Mind.

But this desperation is a magnet for good Samaritans, and many lawyers around the country have jumped at the chance to help out. The Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association, which has an ongoing contract with FEMA to provide legal help wherever disaster strikes, has organized attorneys to staff about 45 disaster relief centers in Louisiana and 35 in Mississippi. They also helped the Louisiana State Bar Association set up a hot line for low-income people that is staffed by law students.

Firms around the country have taken on major tasks as well. New York's Schulte Roth & Zabel is working with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in a pending class action against FEMA on behalf of the victims of Katrina. The suit seeks a court order requiring the agency to provide them with temporary housing assistance. Several firms have helped The Appleseed Foundation come up with Katrina-related legislative proposals. Schulte has done research on family law issues, and Jones Day has looked at ways to ensure that local businesses and displaced residents are hired to rebuild the city. Yet more firms have filed class actions against insurance companies for denial of flood coverage [Bar Talk, "Hurricane Spoils," November 2005], the Army Corps of Engineers over the city's defective levees, and government agencies over their response to Katrina. And New Orleans?based McGlinchey Stafford is tracking litigation and legislation at hurricanelawblog.com.

NOLAC, too, is getting reinforcement from around the country. King & Spalding and Debevoise & Plimpton called Moreau to offer support. King & Spalding partner Reagan Smith took on an oral argument in a dispute that went before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in December. The suit, which contends that vouchers for Section 8 housing should include money to pay for utilities, was a new area of law for Smith. He spent a day in NOLAC's New Orleans office going over his presentation with the attorneys. "I think what they are doing is amazing," Smith says. "They are very courageous." NOLAC, which took the case in 2004, was relieved to hand it off to Smith.

Debevoise plans to send lawyers to NOLAC's office to help out, and students from Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, the University of North Carolina School of Law, and Loyola University New Orleans School of Law have also volunteered. Others have sent money. The American Bar Association contributed $133,000, which Moreau says will pay for the salaries of two attorneys for one year, and the AARP Foundation and Debevoise donated enough to support two junior attorneys for a year. Legal Services Corp. also sent the group an additional $50,000 grant after Katrina hit.

The people of New Orleans will need Katrina-related legal help for years as they face bank foreclosures, construction scams, predatory loans, and ongoing battles with FEMA. To help meet their needs, Washington, D.C.'s Equal Justice Works is raising money to send 15 attorneys to the Gulf Coast to work with local law schools and groups like NOLAC. So far Equal Justice has brought in $1 million from the JEHT Foundation and $75,000 each from the Association of Corporate Counsel, Latham & Watkins, and Greenberg Traurig.

"We're trying to overcome a devastation of biblical proportions," Moreau says. "The help we've received from volunteer lawyers, law students, and others has lifted our spirits and let us know we're not alone in this battle."

E-mail: bsandburg@alm.com.

On a sunny day in late November, Marisa Katz drives east from downtown New Orleans to Chalmatte, one of the areas most ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Houses stand forlornly along the road, their windows broken and insides gutted. Gas stations and stores are boarded up. There are no pedestrians in sight.

Katz, a 28-year-old attorney with New Orleans Legal Assistance (NOLAC), pulls into the edge of a shopping center next to a large white tent, one of the disaster relief centers set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She walks through the tent door past a pair of swaggering men in military fatigues. They are members of Blackwater USA, a private security contractor known for its work in Iraq, who have been hired to guard FEMA staff. Yet the people who trudge into the center are hardly threatening as they wait for hours to fill out applications for trailers and financial aid.

Wedged between groups offering Medicaid and insurance information, Katz and her NOLAC colleagues take four-hour shifts, answering questions and signing up clients who can't afford a lawyer. A woman stops by whose mortgage company had dropped her flood insurance coverage. An elderly couple asks if they should continue paying their mortgage since they won't be rebuilding their house.

"Being part of Legal Assistance has been psychologically helpful," Katz tells the reporter accompanying her. She recalls talking to a young man who found his parents drowned in their attic. "There are a million stories like that," she says.

The primary legal aid group in New Orleans, NOLAC provides a lifeline for the legions of hurricane victims now being cut a raw deal by landlords and insurance companies. NOLAC lawyers are especially sensitive because they, too, have been devastated by the storm. Seventy-five percent of the group's employees lost their houses, and many had to leave the city, reducing the number of staff attorneys from 30 to 23.

"When you've lost your own home, it's hard to think straight," says Mark Moreau, a 28-year veteran?and co?executive director?of NOLAC. Moreau, whose house was engulfed in a seven-foot wall of water, is living with relatives. "It's so hard to get things done without computers and e-mail and support staff and with the courts being closed," he says.

The group also lost its Chalmatte outpost in the storm, and did not return to the site of the wreckage until early December. Wearing masks, Katz, Moreau, and two other staffers slogged through thick mud up to their second-floor office to find the ceilings and one wall caved in. They were able to salvage a few papers among the moldy files.

Founded in 1967, NOLAC receives most of its $3.3 million annual funding from Legal Services Corp., a nonprofit established by Congress to give poor people access to lawyers. Before Katrina hit, NOLAC had 3,000 cases, ranging from housing and workplace disputes to domestic violence cases and child custody battles. Their clients have now scattered around the country, along with witnesses and opposing attorneys, so most of these matters are on hold indefinitely.

In its new incarnation, NOLAC is now primarily helping people fight evictions. More than 10,000 people were reportedly evicted in November, after Governor Kathleen Blanco's two-month moratorium on legal proceedings came to an end. With housing scarce, landlords who had been renting property for $375 per month can now get $1,000 from construction workers contracted by FEMA.

It's an uphill struggle for the public defenders. For example, NOLAC won a victory in mid-November, when a judge ruled that the residents of a trailer park could not be removed for nonpayment of rent. But afterward the landlord served the residents a ten-day notice to leave. "There's little defense to no-cause evictions," Moreau says. "All we can do is buy them some time."

Three months after Katrina pounded into New Orleans, the city has an air of hopeless desperation. The residents of the Lower Ninth Ward were not allowed back into the area until December 1. While many shops in the French Quarter and business district have opened, the main roads out of town lead to devastated, deserted swaths of land. People in white suits and masks gather up mounds of debris on the sidewalks and medians. As you follow Orleans Avenue to the north and Tulane Avenue to the west?past the university and fortress-like criminal courthouse?there is a strong odor of rot. Outside a house in Chalmatte, a waterlogged book lies on the sidewalk. Its faded title:The Millionaire Mind.

But this desperation is a magnet for good Samaritans, and many lawyers around the country have jumped at the chance to help out. The Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association, which has an ongoing contract with FEMA to provide legal help wherever disaster strikes, has organized attorneys to staff about 45 disaster relief centers in Louisiana and 35 in Mississippi. They also helped the Louisiana State Bar Association set up a hot line for low-income people that is staffed by law students.

Firms around the country have taken on major tasks as well. New York's Schulte Roth & Zabel is working with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in a pending class action against FEMA on behalf of the victims of Katrina. The suit seeks a court order requiring the agency to provide them with temporary housing assistance. Several firms have helped The Appleseed Foundation come up with Katrina-related legislative proposals. Schulte has done research on family law issues, and Jones Day has looked at ways to ensure that local businesses and displaced residents are hired to rebuild the city. Yet more firms have filed class actions against insurance companies for denial of flood coverage [Bar Talk, "Hurricane Spoils," November 2005], the Army Corps of Engineers over the city's defective levees, and government agencies over their response to Katrina. And New Orleans?based McGlinchey Stafford is tracking litigation and legislation at hurricanelawblog.com.

NOLAC, too, is getting reinforcement from around the country. King & Spalding and Debevoise & Plimpton called Moreau to offer support. King & Spalding partner Reagan Smith took on an oral argument in a dispute that went before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in December. The suit, which contends that vouchers for Section 8 housing should include money to pay for utilities, was a new area of law for Smith. He spent a day in NOLAC's New Orleans office going over his presentation with the attorneys. "I think what they are doing is amazing," Smith says. "They are very courageous." NOLAC, which took the case in 2004, was relieved to hand it off to Smith.

Debevoise plans to send lawyers to NOLAC's office to help out, and students from Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, the University of North Carolina School of Law, and Loyola University New Orleans School of Law have also volunteered. Others have sent money. The American Bar Association contributed $133,000, which Moreau says will pay for the salaries of two attorneys for one year, and the AARP Foundation and Debevoise donated enough to support two junior attorneys for a year. Legal Services Corp. also sent the group an additional $50,000 grant after Katrina hit.

The people of New Orleans will need Katrina-related legal help for years as they face bank foreclosures, construction scams, predatory loans, and ongoing battles with FEMA. To help meet their needs, Washington, D.C.'s Equal Justice Works is raising money to send 15 attorneys to the Gulf Coast to work with local law schools and groups like NOLAC. So far Equal Justice has brought in $1 million from the JEHT Foundation and $75,000 each from the Association of Corporate Counsel, Latham & Watkins, and Greenberg Traurig.

"We're trying to overcome a devastation of biblical proportions," Moreau says. "The help we've received from volunteer lawyers, law students, and others has lifted our spirits and let us know we're not alone in this battle."

E-mail: bsandburg@alm.com.

 

LOAD-DATE: January 1, 2006


 



5.    National Underwriter, Property & Casualty/Risk & Benefits Management Edition, “Katrina Leads Pack Of Record Hurricanes,” December 19, 2005

 

12 of 59 DOCUMENTS

 

Copyright 2005 The National Underwriter Company 

National Underwriter,

Property & Casualty/Risk & Benefits Management Edition

 

December 19, 2005 /

 

December 26, 2005

 

SECTION: SPECIAL REPORT: YEAR-END REVIEW; Pg. 14

 

LENGTH: 490 words

 

HEADLINE: Katrina Leads Pack Of Record Hurricanes;

Worst disaster ever combines with Rita, Wilma to cause $45.2 billion in losses

 

BYLINE: BY SAM FRIEDMAN

 

BODY:

Insurers thought they got walloped last year when a grand slam of hurricanes hit the U.S. mainland in 90 days, causing just over $20 billion in covered damages. However, had a fortune teller sensed what lay ahead for 2005, the seer would have warned: "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"

From late summer until early fall, three new top-10 storms hammered the Southeastern United States this year, including the worst ever-Hurricane Katrina-combining with Hurricanes Rita and Wilma to drain some $45.2 billion from insurer coffers. Total catastrophe losses for the year have already topped an astounding $50 billion.

Katrina is by far the most devastating catastrophe ever to hit the industry, with insured losses at $34.4 billion and counting-surpassing another monster, 1992's Hurricane Andrew, by some $14 billion. Katrina wreaked havoc along the Gulf Coast, very nearly destroying the city of New Orleans-a popular convention destination for the industry.

Hurricane Wilma ended up being the seventh-worst U.S. catastrophe with $6.1 billion in claims, while Rita finished ninth at $4.7 billion.

The hurricanes stand on their own as the story of the year, not only because of the massive devastation they caused, but also because they drove two other stories of top-10 consequence.

For one, widespread water damage caused by Katrina prompted legal challenges to the industry's longstanding flood exclusion. It also put a spotlight on the National Flood Insurance Program's many shortcomings.

In addition, record catastrophe losses had an impact on the softening market-one of the other top-10 stories this year-although it appears insurers will not seek across-the-board price hikes to compensate, remaining "rational" in their response. Thus far, only selected regions, lines and individual accounts are seeing substantial increases.

In addition, the combination of major natural disasters and the looming expiration of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act prompted calls by some big-state regulators for an entirely new approach to coverage of mega-catastrophes.

California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi led the charge for a comprehensive plan that would eventually replace the NFIP and establish an all-perils homeowner policy backed by a public-private partnership. The industry's response has been skeptical at best, as insurers suspect they will be left with a majority of the exposure while still being hamstrung by politically-driven rate restraints.

Back-to-back years of record hurricane losses also prompted rating agencies to reconsider how they assess a carrier's ability to withstand a major disaster or series of catastrophes, which will reverberate throughout the industry as insurers scramble to meet new risk-based capital standards.

Can insurers-not to mention the public and the government-withstand a third consecutive season of horrific hurricanes? Let's hope we don't have to find out.

 

LOAD-DATE: December 23, 2005


 



6.    VNU Entertainment News Wire, “Multimedia Briefs,” December 19, 2005

 

13 of 59 DOCUMENTS

 

Copyright 2005 BPI Communication, Inc. 

VNU Entertainment News Wire

 

December 19, 2005, Monday

 

SECTION: Entertainment News

 

LENGTH: 240 words

 

HEADLINE: Multimedia Briefs

 

BYLINE: From The Hollywood Reporter

 

BODY:

JibJab unleashes '2-0-5' satire

 

JibJab is sucking up bandwidth again as thousands of viewers check out its latest political satire. "2-0-5" is a "musical year in review" featuring a beleaguered President Bush singing about the problems he has faced this year, JibJab co-founder Gregg Spiridellis said. Among the sore spots that get poked are FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina and legal entanglements involving Rep. Tom DeLay's and Vice President Dick Cheney's ex-chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

 

Gervais podcast tops popularity charts

 

Ricky Gervais, best known as the creator and star of the hit BBC comedy "The Office," has made it to the top of popularity charts for his new podcast. The half-hour audio program also features Stephen Merchant, who co-wrote "The Office," and Karl Pilkington, a radio producer the two often work with. "The Ricky Gervais Show" can be downloaded from the Web site of U.K. newspaper the Guardian as well as via iTunes and other podcatcher software.

 

Numark unveils new way to burn CDs

 

Consumers no longer need a computer to make duplicates of audio or other CDs. The Numark CD2CD One-Button Duplicator is a $200 gadget that handles the process in two minutes. Users simply put the original disc in one side and the blank one in the other, then press a button. It also can make a compilation drawn from multiple original discs and can connect to a PC via USB 2.0.

 

LOAD-DATE: December 20, 2005


 



7.    The Advocate, “Prisoners face 6 more weeks *** Prosecutors get more time to file charges,” November 24, 2005

 

23 of 59 DOCUMENTS

 

 

Copyright 2005 Capital City Press

All Rights Reserved

The Advocate

 

November 24, 2005 Thursday 

Main Edition

 

SECTION: B; Pg. 01

 

LENGTH: 726 words

 

HEADLINE: Prisoners face 6 more weeks *** Prosecutors get more time to file charges

 

BYLINE: ADRIAN ANGELETTE

 

BODY:

Prisoners face 6 more weeks *** Prosecutors get more time to file charges

Hundreds of Orleans Parish prisoners, some held since July without formally being charged with a crime, could spend another six weeks behind bars before learning what charge, if any, they will face at trial, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled Tuesday night.

Justices had to decide which of the prisoners spread throughout the state during the evacuation of Hurricane Katrina could be set free. Their ruling only affects prisoners who have not yet formally been charged by prosecutors and are being held under suspicion of non-violent offenses.

People arrested for serious felonies, like rape or murder, are not being considered for release.

"The widespread devastation following Hurricane Katrina, resulting in the emergency orders issued by Governor Blanco ... provided just cause for the state's delay in formally charging the arrestees within the time limits," the Supreme Court ruled.

Defense attorneys want all prisoners who meet those criteria released immediately. Prosecutors want all prisoners, regardless of the severity of the offenses, held until a review of their cases can be performed and a decision made on whether the accusations leveled by police are valid and can stand up in court.

The Supreme Court ruled that all prisoners who could face only misdemeanor offenses should be set free immediately, said Neal Walker with the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center in New Orleans. All inmates who could face time in the state penitentiary system should be held until prosecutors review the cases, Walker said.

The Supreme Court also gave prosecutors until 5 p.m. on Jan. 6 to file formal charges against all the prisoners or set them free.

Walker vowed on Wednesday to take the case to federal court. He said the plight of the prisoners is not unlike that of the detainees being held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where some have spent years in custody without being charged.

"The Supreme Court has essentially said these prisoners can be treated like the alleged enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay," Walker said on Wednesday. "If the federal courts were open tomorrow, I'd be there trying to get these people released."

Prosecutor Donna Andrieu, who is handling the appeal for the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office, referred questions to the office's public information officer, who could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this week, Andrieu said prosecutors are trying to review files as quickly as possible. But the storm has hurt communications with police, court offices were closed and the building that housed the District Attorney's Office was flooded with 6 feet of water during Katrina.

The legal battle over whether to free the prisoners has been waged for weeks. Walker said the case was filed on behalf of prisoners in four parishes, but the Supreme Court ruling affects the status of all Orleans Parish prisoners who were evacuated to prisons and jails in 26 parishes across Louisiana.

The first ruling came in early November when state District Judge Calvin Johnson of Orleans Parish - working as an ad hoc judge in Baton Rouge state District Court - ruled that the prisoners should be released. Walker and other attorneys had argued that prosecutors had only 45 days to file charges against misdemeanor offenders and 60 days to bring charges against those suspected of felonies.

Prosecutors countered that Gov. Kathleen Blanco had issued an executive order that extended legal deadlines, including the amount of time prosecutors had to bring charges against prisoners. Blanco's order suspended the legal deadlines from Aug. 29, when Katrina hit, until Friday.

Prosecutors asked a panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal to review Johnson's ruling. The panel stopped the release of prisoners. That ruling was overturned a week later by a panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal - meaning the release was back on.

Prosecutors last week asked the Supreme Court to intervene, which it did Tuesday night.

Walker said he will take the case to federal court, hoping that a judge will free the prisoners quickly.

That could be the last hope for many of the prisoners, he said. Many of them were being represented by public defenders in Orleans Parish, but those prisoners don't have attorneys now because 30 of 39 public defenders have been laid off.

 

LOAD-DATE: January 30, 2006