NJ Homeowners Sue FEMA Director Seeking Appraisal of Superstorm Sandy Loss
Wargacki v. William Craig Fugate, No. 13-6224 (D. N.J.): In another recent complaint, filed on October 18th, 2013, in the U.S District Court, the Policyholder has actually sued the Director of FEMA, seeking the Federal Judge to Compel FEMA to Appraisal and Appoint an Umpire to reside on the panel. This is a very interesting case, as FEMA has virtually blocked Policyholders from invoking Appraisal, despite the fact that these policies contain an Appraisal Clause, very similar to the standard fire policy language.
NEWARK, N.J. — Owners of a New Jersey shore vacation home have sued the director of FEMA, asking a federal judge to appoint an appraiser who can reconcile a dispute over the more than $160,000 they have not yet received for damage to their property caused by Superstorm Sandy.
Walter and Barbara Wargacki allege in an Oct. 18 complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey that an independent adjuster assigned to their claim failed to consider the full extent of damage to their home and recommended an insufficient payment to cover the Wargackis’ flood losses.
The Wargackis’ South Mantoloking, N.J., residence was covered under a FEMA-issued flood policy in the amount of $250,000; however, the lawsuit says that the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy was well in excess of that amount. After an adjuster appointed by FEMA evaluated the loss, the Wargackis received payment of $88,881.
According to the lawsuit, FEMA Director William Craig Fugate’s refusal to make any further payments beyond that amount constitutes a breach of contract, and the Wargackis have demanded the difference between the amount received and the $250,000 in coverage available under their policy.
The complaint also notes that the policy provides for the parties to demand an appraisal in the event that they do not agree on the amount of loss. Under the terms of the policy, the suit says, each party is afforded an opportunity to appoint their own appraiser and that both are obligated to meet and attempt to come to an agreement on the ultimate value of the damages claimed.
Should the appraisers be unable to agree on a value, they are required under the policy to appoint a neutral umpire to resolve the differences, the lawsuit states.
The Wargackis have chosen their own appraiser and demand judgment from the court requiring FEMA to comply with the policy terms by appointing an appraiser and resolve the amount of damage Superstorm Sandy caused to their home.
They further seek entry of a judgment based upon the appraisal, together with prejudgment interest and further relief deemed proper by the court.
Counsel for the Wargackis is Allan Maitlin of Sachs, Maitlin, Fleming & Greene in West Orange, N.J.
Wargacki v. William Craig Fugate, No. 13-6224 (D. N.J.).
Complaint Ref# SAN-1310-09
Associated Law Firms
achs, Maitlin, Fleming & Greene