Appeals court to review $1 million Katrina verdict

A federal appeals court will hear arguments today after State Farm Fire and Casualty Company asked the court to throw out a landmark $1 million punitive damage award.

The award went to a Mississippi couple who sued the insurer for refusing to cover Hurricane Katrina damage to their home.

A three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments from lawyers on both sides of the case.

It was the first among hundreds of Katrina insurance suits to be tried by a jury in Mississippi.

At the conclusion of January's trial, U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. took part of the case out of jurors' hands and ruled that State Farm was liable for $223,292 in wind damage to the Biloxi home of Norman and Genevieve Broussard.

The jury subsequently awarded $2.5 million in punitive damages to the Broussards, but Senter later reduced that amount to $1 million.

Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm appealed the jury's verdict and several of the judge's rulings.