Scruggs Calls Nationwide Ruling "A Win" For His Client - - The News for South Mississippi

Scruggs Calls Nationwide Ruling "A Win" For His Client

Paul Leonard stood in the living room of his Pascagoula home. He was holding pictures he took that showed what the house looked like after Katrina hit Pascagoula.

"Like everybody else's house, it was a mess," he said.

And like everybody else, Leonard counted on his insurance company to cover his hurricane damage.

"We had obvious dampness in the house and obvious some type of mud, sand, silt," he remembered.

But Nationwide Insurance wouldn't pay for anything damaged by water, because the Leonards didn't have flood insurance. And their homeowners policy didn't cover water damage.

Dickie Scruggs represented the Leonard family in court.

"If they're offered nothing, like these companies are doing, or simply chump change for their homeowners and families down here," the attorney said, "we're going to be facing trials like this as long as we can draw a breath."

Scruggs spent more than a week presenting his case to Judge L.T. Senter. He asked the judge to award his clients about $130,000 to cover their hurricane renovations. Senter settled on $1228, saying almost all the damage to the Leonard residence was attributable to water.

"A win is a win," was Scruggs' interpretation of the ruling.

Others, like Nationwide, contend the ruling favors insurance companies.

"We are very pleased that the court ruled in our favor," Nationwide released in a statement regarding the verdict. "This ruling underscores just how important it is for all policyholders to carefully read and understand the terms of the coverage they purchase."

Leonard's version of the verdict is positive, though he understands how it can be interpreted differently.

"You're a reporter, I'm a police officer. It's going to take lawyers months to analyze all this," he said.

It only took Scruggs a quick glance at the 13 page document to declare victory.

"The judge ruled in favor of this family," he said.

The family seemed relieved.

"I'm happy that it's a win, yes," said Leonard. "I think we feel justified in our quest. We worked hard on this. We felt like we had been done an injustice."

by Brad Kessie

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