It’s been only about 45 days since Superstorm Sandy struck, and already the first insurance class action has been filed in New Jersey federal court.  In Donnelly v. New Jersey Re-Insurance Company, et al, Case No. 2:33-av-00001 (D.N.J., filed Dec. 13, 2012), the allegations focus on coverage for flood insurance claims made under the federal Standard Flood Insurance Policy issued under the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”).  The suit names nine insurance companies that write such coverage as “Write Your Own” insurers under the NFIP, which allows private insurers to issue policies that are backed by the federal government.  The complaint does not name as a defendant the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which issues some of the same policies directly.

The complaint alleges that the lowest floor of the plaintiff’s building and those of putative class members were erroneously classified as a “basement” under the following definition:

Any area of the building, including any sunken room or sunken portion of a room, having its floor below ground level (subgrade) on all sides.

(Complaint, ¶ 8.) 

The complaint seeks certification of various proposed New Jersey classes, each of them limited to either Irene or Sandy, and some of them limited to merely Jersey City or Hoboken.