Nov. 29, 2008, 6:35PM
GALVESTON, Texas — Expecting an influx of lawsuits related to Hurricane Ike, Galveston County judges are developing plans to expedite cases and hopefully avoid some of the prolonged proceedings that took place in neighboring states after the 2005 hurricane season.
Ike roared ashore Sept. 13 in Galveston, damaging much of the state’s upper coast and displacing thousands of residents and businesses.
In a story in Saturday editions of the Galveston County Daily News, Judge David E. Garner of the 10th Judicial District Court said few homeowners have filed lawsuits against their insurance companies, but he expects that to change.
“After the first of the year, I think we’ll start seeing the first round of lawsuits coming in,” said Garner, administrative judge for district courts in Galveston County. “We are just anticipating there’s probably going to be a lot of them, but I don’t know for sure.”
Judges have discussed appointing one judge as pretrial judge for all residential insurance lawsuits. The move could expedite initial court procedures and ensure consistent pretrial rulings, Garner said.
The judges have not decided who would get the appointment — in part because some judges themselves may have claims against insurers, presenting conflicts of interest.
Garner said he hoped to have a plan in place by January.
More than 1,000 lawsuits were filed after hurricanes Katrina and Rita three years ago, as homeowners and insurance companies bickered over what caused the damage — wind or water. Some property owners are still in legal battles that have prevented them from rebuilding.
Regarding this statement – The judges have not decided who would get the appointment — in part because some judges themselves may have claims against insurers, presenting conflicts of interest. – As a current victim of the corrupt, unethical legal system in Louisiana I can’t help but wonder if judges fair better in their own lawsuits – I bet they do. katy