In an unexpected ruling that could have wide-ranging effects on insurers and Katrina claimants affected by the rupture of the New Orleans levee system, a federal judge in the city has ruled that the water damage exclusion is ambiguous because it does not necessarily include man-made causes and therefore must be construed against the companies.

“The word ‘flood’ has numerous meanings,” said United States District Court Judge Stanwood R. Duvall, Jr., in his 85-page ruling issued late Monday. “It is defined in virtually all dictionaries first as a noun then as a verb. In the policies being examined by the Court, it is used as a noun. As noted, most of the definitions of the noun imply encroachment of water caused by an act of nature. Furthermore, this exclusion has been the subject of differing interpretations in the jurisprudence, which further demonstrates that it is susceptible of two reasonable interpretations. As such, under Louisiana civilian principles and the jurisprudence constant, this Court finds the ISO Water Damage Exclusion ambiguous.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free
PropertyCasualty360 Digital Reader.


  • All news coverage, best practices, and in-depth analysis.
  • Educational webcasts, resources from industry leaders, and informative newsletters.
  • Other award-winning websites including and

Already have an account?


© 2023 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.



Join PropertyCasualty360

Don’t miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed decisions for your P&C insurance business. Join now!

  • Unlimited access to - your roadmap to thriving in a disrupted environment
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including, and
  • Exclusive discounts on PropertyCasualty360, National Underwriter, Claims and ALM events

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join PropertyCasualty360

Copyright © 2023 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.