GULFPORT - A federal judge who would have presided over some lawsuits against insurance companies after Hurricane Katrina is instead waging his own legal battle against the insurer of his Gulf Coast home. U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola and his wife on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. for denying his claim and refusing to cover damage to his demolished home in Long Beach.
Guirola's lawsuit is like many spawned by the debate over whether Katrina's wind or water was responsible for damage to tens of thousands of homes. The judge's attorney, Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, said the judge decided several weeks ago to recuse himself from hearing all Katrina-related insurance cases to avoid a conflict of interest.
"He was very reluctant to file litigation," Scruggs said. "It's not typical that a judge would be forced to file a lawsuit... Most judges are very reluctant litigators and only (sue) as a last resort."
With Guirola stepping aside, U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter is now the only federal judge in Mississippi who is hearing these Katrina insurance cases, according to Scruggs.