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A federal jury in New Orleans has ordered Allstate to pay a man $2.8 million for a Hurricane Katrina Insurance Claim they felt should have been paid. Allstate would not pay the Slidell homeowners claim saying that a storm surge was responsible for the damage and not covered by the policy. The jury decided that wind damaged the home and that was covered under the policy.

The verdict — the first among hundreds of lawsuits that Louisiana policyholders have filed against their insurers in federal court — gives a boost to thousands of homeowners challenging insurers for refusing to pay their claims.

Randy Maniloff, a Philadelphia-based lawyer who represents insurers and has written about the Katrina litigation, said the jury’s decision means the “price of poker goes up” for insurers who are trying to settle out of court with policyholders and avoid costly trials.

The key piece of evidence the jury considered in deciding against Allstate was that the engineer who assessed the damage to the home wrote his report before visiting it. Allstate is planning to appeal the decision.

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