613 F.3d 504 (5th Cir. 2010), 09-30485, In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation

Docket Nº:09-30485.
Citation:613 F.3d 504
Opinion Judge:EDITH H. JONES, Chief Judge:
Party Name:In Re: KATRINA CANAL BREACHES LITIGATION. v. Anpac Louisiana Insurance Company; American National General Insurance Company; American National Property & Casualty Company; Republic Fire and Casualty Insurance Company; Auto Club Family Insurance Company; Aegis Security Insurance Company; AIG Centennial Insurance Company; AIU Insurance Company; Allst
Attorney:Stuart Kyle Duncan, Asst. Gen. (argued), LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, for Plaintiffs-Appellees. Alan J. Yacoubian, Rachael Patton Catalanotto, Neal J. Favret, Johnson, Johnson, Barrios & Yacoubian, New Orleans, LA, for Auto Family Ins. Co. Maura Z. Pelleteri, Amy Seltzer Malish, Kristen ...
Judge Panel:Before JONES, Chief Judge, PRADO, Circuit Judge, and O'CONNOR, District Judge.
Case Date:July 28, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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613 F.3d 504 (5th Cir. 2010)

In Re: KATRINA CANAL BREACHES LITIGATION.

Louisiana State, Individually and on behalf of State of Louisiana, Division of Administration, Office of Community Development ex rel.; James D. Caldwell, also known as Buddy Caldwell, proper plaintiff party, in place of Charles C. Foti, Jr., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

Anpac Louisiana Insurance Company; American National General Insurance Company; American National Property & Casualty Company; Republic Fire and Casualty Insurance Company; Auto Club Family Insurance Company; Aegis Security Insurance Company; AIG Centennial Insurance Company; AIU Insurance Company; Allstate Indemnity Company; Allstate Insurance Company; America First Insurance Company; American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida; American Family Insurance; American General Property Insurance Company; American Insurance Company; American Manufacturers Mutual Insurance Company; American Modern Insurance Group; American Modern Surplus Lines Insurance Company; American Reliable Insurance Company; American Security Insurance Company; American Summit Insurance Company; American Southern Home Insurance Company; American Western Home Insurance Company; Amica Mutual Insurance Company; Armed Forces Insurance Exchange; Assurance Company of America; Audubon Insurance Company; Balboa Insurance Company; Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London, London Market Insurers; Chubb Indemnity Insurance Company; Chubb Custom Insurance Company; Chubb National Insurance Company; Clarendon National Insurance Company; Economy Premier Assurance Company; Empire Fire & Marine Insurance Company; Empire Indemnity Insurance Company; Encompass Insurance Company of America; Encompass Property and Casualty Company; Farmers Insurance Exchange; Federal Insurance Company; Fidelity and Deposit Insurance Company of Maryland; Fidelity National Insurance Company; Fidelity National Property and Casualty Insurance Company; Fireman's Fund Insurance Company; Great Northern Insurance Company; Hanover American Insurance Company; Hanover Insurance Company; Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company; Hartford Casualty Insurance Company; Hartford Fire Insurance Company; Hartford Insurance Company of the Midwest; Hartford Insurance Company of the Southeast; et al.; Homesite Insurance Company; Horace Mann Insurance Company; Horace Mann Property and Casualty Insurance Company; Lafayette Insurance Company; Lexington Insurance Company; Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company; Liberty Mutual Insurance Company; Louisiana Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company; Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company; Massachusetts Bay Insurance Company; Merastar Insurance Company; Meritplan Insurance Company; Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Company; Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company; National Lloyds Insurance Company; National Security Fire & Casualty Company; National Union Fire Insurance Company of Louisiana; National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Omega One Insurance Company; Scottsdale Insurance Company; Security Plan Fire Insurance Company; Shelter General Insurance Company; Shelter Mutual Insurance Company; Southwest Business Corporation; Standard Fire Insurance Company; State Farm Fire & Casualty Company; State Farm General Insurance Company; Trinity Universal Insurance Company; Union National Fire Insurance Company; United Fire and Casualty Company; United Fire and Indemnity Company; United Services Automobile Association; Unitrin Auto and Home Insurance Company; Unitrin Preferred Insurance Company; USAA; Casualty Insurance Company; USAA General Indemnity Company; USAA; Vigilant Insurance Company; Voyager Indemnity Insurance Company; Voyager Property and Casualty Insurance Company; ZC Sterling Corporation; ZC Sterling Insurance Agency, Inc.; Zurich American Insurance Company; Zurich North America; Metlife, Inc., Defendants-Appellants.

No. 09-30485.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

July 28, 2010

Page 505

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 506

Stuart Kyle Duncan, Asst. Gen. (argued), LA Dept. of Justice, Baton Rouge, LA, for Plaintiffs-Appellees.

Alan J. Yacoubian, Rachael Patton Catalanotto, Neal J. Favret, Johnson, Johnson, Barrios & Yacoubian, New Orleans, LA, for Auto Family Ins. Co.

Maura Z. Pelleteri, Amy Seltzer Malish, Kristen H. Schorp, Krebs, Farley & Pelleteri, P.L.L.C., New Orleans, LA, for Aegis Sec. Ins. Co.

Judy Y. Barrasso, Stephen L. Miles, Steven W. Usdin, H. Minor Pipes, III, Barrasso, Usdin, Kupperman, Freeman & Sarver, L.L.C., New Orleans, LA, for Allstate Indem. Co., Allstate Ins. Co., America First Ins. Co., Chubb Indem. Ins. Co., Chubb Custom Ins. Co., Chubb Nat. Ins. Co., Economy Premiere Assur. Co., Encompass Ins. Co. of America, Encompass Property & Cas. Co., Federal Ins. Co. Great Northern Ins. Co. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., Metropolitan Cas. Ins. Co., Metropolitan Property & Cas. Ins. Co., Vigilant Ins. Co. and Metlife, Inc.

Richard L. Fenton (argued), Steven M. Levy, Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, L.L.P., Chicago, IL, for Allstate Indem. Co., Allstate Ins. Co., Encompass Ins. Co. of America and Encompass Property & Cas. Co.

Gordon Paul Serou, Jr., Law Offices of Gordon P. Serou, Jr., L.L.C., New Orleans, LA, Walter D. Willson, Wells, Marble & Hurst, P.L.L.C., Ridgeland, MS, for American Bankers Ins. Co. of Florida, American Reliable Ins. Co., American Sec. Ins. Co., Voyager Indem. Ins. Co. and Voyager Property & Cas. Ins. Co.

Kelly C. Bogart, Lawrence J. Duplass, C. Michael Pfister, Duplass, Zwain, Bourgeois, Pfister & Weinstock, A.P.L.C., Metairie, LA, for American Ins. Co. and Fireman's Fund Ins. Co.

Neil C. Abramson, Jacqueline M. Brettner, Harry A. Rosenberg, Sr. Atty., Nora B. Bilbro, Phelps Dunbar, L.L.P., New Orleans, LA, for American Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co., Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London, Fidelity Nat. Ins. Co., Fidelity Nat. Property & Cas. Ins. Co., Homesite Ins. Co., Merastar Ins. Co., Scottsdale Ins. Co., Trinity Universal Ins. Co., Unitrin Auto & Home Ins. Co. and Unitrin Preferred Ins. Co.

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Christopher Raymond Pennison, Jay M. Lonero, Larzelere, Picou, Wells, Simpson, Lonero, L.L.C., Metairie, LA, for American Nat. Property & Cas. Co., Anpac Louisiana Ins. Co., Republic Fire & Cas. Ins. Co. and American Nat. Gen. Ins. Co.

Richard Edward King, Matthew Joseph Lindsay, Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith, New Orleans, LA, for Assurance Co. of America, Zurich American Ins. Co. and Zurich North America.

John E. Unsworth, Jr., Lauren E. Brisbi, William Glenn Burns, Dominic J. Ovella, Sean Patrick Mount, Hailey, McNamara, Hall, Larmann & Papale, L.L.P., Metairie, LA, for Clarendon Nat. Ins. Co., Empire Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Empire Indem. Ins. Co., Fidelity & Deposit Ins. Co. of Maryland, ZC Sterling Corp. and ZC Sterling Ins. Agency.

Daniel Michael Redmann, Lobman, Carnahan, Batt, Angelle & Nader, New Orleans, LA, for Empire Fire & Marine Ins. Co. and Fidelity & Deposit Ins. Co. of Maryland,

Seth Andrew Schmeeckle, Ralph S. Hubbard, III (argued), Lugenbuhl, Wheaton, Peck, Rankin & Hubbard, New Orleans, LA, Wystan Michael Ackerman, Robinson, & Cole, L.L.P., Hartford, CT, Alan Scott Gilbert, Kevin Peter Kamraczewski, Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, L.L.P, Chicago, IL, for Hanover American Ins. Co., Hanover Ins. Co., Hartfoed Acc. & Indem. Co., Hartford Cas. Ins. Co., Hartford Fire Ins. Co., Hartford Ins. Co. of the Midwest, Hartford Ins. Co. of the Southeast, Horace Mann Ins. Co., Horace Mann Property & Cas. Ins. Co., Massachusetts Bay Ins. Co., Standard Fire Ins. Co., United Services Auto. Ass'n, USAA Cas. Ins. Co. and USAA Gen. Indem. Co.

Wayne Joseph Lee, Stephen Glenn Bullock, Mary Lue Dumestre, Andrea Leigh Fannin, Stone, Pigman, Walther, & Wittmann, L.L.C., New Orleans, LA, Charles Louis Chassaignac, IV, Porteous, Hainkel & Johnson, L.L.P., Baton Rouge, LA, for State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. and State Farm Gen. Ins. Co.

Deborah B. Rouen, Adams & Reese, L.L.P., New Orleans, LA, for Union Nat. Fire Ins. Co.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Before JONES, Chief Judge, PRADO, Circuit Judge, and O'CONNOR, District Judge.[*]

EDITH H. JONES, Chief Judge:

In this interlocutory appeal, the Defendants-over 200 insurance companies-challenge approximately 151,000 homeowner's insurance claims brought by the State of Louisiana based upon policyholders' purported assignments of policy rights to the State. Because no controlling Louisiana Supreme Court precedent has determined whether an insurance contract's anti-assignment clause prohibits post-loss assignments of policy rights, because this issue is case-dispositive, and because either the State or the insurers stand to lose billions of dollars in claims, we certify the post-loss assignment question to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

I. Factual Background and Procedural History

To provide relief in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Congress appropriated federal funds, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to affected states. Louisiana distributed some of those funds

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via the " Road Home" program, which provided grants of up to 150,000 dollars to Louisiana homeowners to repair uninsured or under-insured property damage. Purporting to fulfill an obligation under federal law to " prevent recipients from receiving any duplication of benefits," 1 the State required Road Home grant recipients to execute a " Limited Subrogation/Assignment Agreement." It stated, in pertinent part:

I/we hereby assign to the State of Louisiana ... to the extent of the grant proceeds awarded or to be awarded to me under the [Road Home] Program, all of my/our claims and future rights to reimbursement and all payments hereafter received or to be received by me/us: (a) under any policy of...

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