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Broussard v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
523 F.3d 618 (2008)


Facts

Norman and Genevieve Broussard (plaintiffs) owned a home in Biloxi, Mississippi. The Broussards’ home was covered by an open-peril homeowner’s policy with State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (State Farm) (defendant). The policy covered accidental direct loss to the Broussards’ home, but excluded loss caused by water damage. During Hurricane Katrina, the Broussards’ home was destroyed. The Broussards’ filed a claim with State Farm. The State Farm adjustor determined that greater damage was caused by flood than by wind and denied the Broussards’ claim. The Broussards sued State Farm, seeking, in part, reimbursement up to their policy limit. Following a jury trial, the Broussards and State Farm each moved for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL). The Broussards’ motion was granted. The district court determined that the destruction of the Broussards’ property was covered under the open-peril policy, because it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, a windstorm and a covered peril. The district court further held that State Farm had the burden of demonstrating that the destruction of the Broussards’ home was caused by an excluded peril and that State Farm had not met that burden.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Clement, J.)

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