The Fifth Circuit yesterday rejected — for at least the fourth time this year — a claim that a homeowner’s insurance policy covered losses resulting from Hurricane Katrina. Essentially, the court held that homeowners can’t recover for damage from gale-force wind if a later surge of water would have caused the harm anyway. Leonard v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 06-61130 (5th Cir. Aug. 30, 2007) (applying Mississippi law).
Nothing remarkable in that, eh? Perhaps. But consider:
- On July 17, 2007, the court refused to certify the "vitally" important questions that it did address to the Supreme Court of Mississippi. On the same day, it declined to continue oral argument or consolidate the appeal with others pending before the court.
- On August 6, the court heard oral argument.
- Twenty-four days later, on August 30, it issued its opinion.
- The principal question that the court addressed — insisted on addressing — concerned whether an exclusion barred relief that the Leonard didn’t get.
- The court affirmed the verdict and judgment but spent zero time on the merits of the claim that the Leonards won.
Blawgletter doesn’t know about you, but we can’t recall an instance in which a federal court of appeals so quickly rendered judgment. Or one where the court so tenaciously stretched to decide an issue. And we won’t even mention the (to us) needless chastisement of the district court.
But what do we know?