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5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decrees against New Orleans residents

The federal appeals court ruled Thursday that  homeowners' insurance policies did not cover hurricane damages caused by dam breaches that destroyed 80 percent of New Orlean. This case could involve thousands of New Orleans residents rebuilding after Katrina.

"This event was excluded from coverage under the plaintiffs' insurance policies, and under Louisiana law, we are bound to enforce the unambiguous terms of their insurance contracts as written," Judge Carolyn King wrote for a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Accordingly, we conclude that the plaintiffs are not entitled to recover under their policies," she wrote.

The panel overturned a November decision by a lower court judge that argued that language excluding water damage from some of their insurance policies was ambiguous.

Judge Stanwood Duval said the policies did not distinguish between floods caused by an act of God - such as excessive rainfall - and floods caused by an act of man, which would include the levee breaches following Katrina's landfall.