Appeals court rules against homeowners seeking Katrina flood

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - In a case that could affect thousands of rebuilding residents, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday that homeowners' insurance policies did not cover flood damages caused by levee breaches.

The ruling by a three judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said the event was excluded from coverage under the plaintiffs' insurance policies, and under Louisiana law.

Judge Carolyn King said they were bound to enforce the unambiguous terms of their insurance contracts as written.

The panel overturned a November decision by U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Junior, who had sided with policyholders arguing that language excluding water damage from some of their insurance policies was ambiguous.

Duval said the policies did not distinguish between floods caused by an act of God - such as excessive rainfall - and floods caused by an act of man, which would include the levee breaches following Katrina's landfall.

The levee breaches flooded 80 percent of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)