Lawyers for homeowners in Long Beach and East Rockaway filed documents in federal court Tuesday saying they have uncovered two more instances of engineering companies forging reports to deny flood insurance settlements to superstorm Sandy victims.
The filing, in the Eastern District of New York, is the latest in a series of civil allegations accusing two firms, GEB HiRise of Uniondale and U.S. Forensic of Metairie, Louisiana, of secretly rewriting reports to blame damage on gradual long-term deterioration, rather than flooding. The move, lawyers say, was part of a broad scheme to deny homeowners thousands of dollars in coverage from the government-run National Flood Insurance Program.
HiRise and U.S. Forensic, which have denied wrongdoing, did not reply to requests for comment Tuesday.
The companies have now been accused of doctoring five reports for homes on Long Island and in Brooklyn after the 2012 storm. Lawyers for homeowners say they expect to file evidence of additional forgeries in the coming weeks.
Flood insurance is underwritten by the federal government, but FEMA hires private companies to administer policies and adjust claims. Lawyers for homeowners say the program encourages private insurers and engineers to lowball settlements by penalizing them for overpayments to homeowners -- but not for underpayments.
The allegations of forgeries have arisen from among the roughly 1,000 pending federal lawsuits filed by homeowners who say they were shortchanged on Sandy flood insurance settlements.
The New York State attorney general's office has opened a criminal probe. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the National Flood Insurance Program, is undertaking its own investigation.