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Judges uphold order for FEMA to turn over Sandy documents

This corner lot on Michigan Street in Long

This corner lot on Michigan Street in Long Beach is among the properties affected by a federal judge's order to release flood insurance documents suspected of being falsified to deny superstorm Sandy claims. It was photographed on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

Three federal judges overseeing superstorm Sandy lawsuits in New York have rejected appeals to block the release of thousands of flood insurance documents suspected of being falsified to deny claims.

The appeals, filed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and scores of insurance companies, sought to overturn an order from a federal judge in Central Islip who concluded an engineering report was secretly rewritten to avoid paying a settlement for a house in Long Beach.

To determine if the practice was widespread, the judge ordered all insurers being sued over Sandy claims to release draft copies and engineering and adjusting reports. The move triggered more than 100 appeals from private insurers and from FEMA, which runs the National Flood Insurance Program.

FEMA initially argued in its appeal that the requirement unfairly penalized others for the actions of a single engineer. Yet after the agency submitted its arguments to the court, the four U.S. senators from New York and New Jersey convinced FEMA to reverse its position.

Last week, FEMA ordered all private insurers who work for the flood insurance program to comply with the order, making the ruling rejecting the appeals somewhat of a footnote.

 

An earlier version of this story said the appeal was denied Thursday. The denial was initially filed Monday.

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