Lawyers File a Flurry of Rita-related Lawsuits

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BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) - The second anniversary of Hurricane Rita is raising questions about the deadline for lawsuits related to property damage from the storm.

Attorneys around Beaumont have filed about 300 property-insurance lawsuits related to Rita in the past two weeks. Most cases involve policyholders who claim their insurers have shortchanged them on storm damage.

At the same time, a dispute has emerged over a two-year deadline for filing the lawsuits. The issue is whether that time period began at the date of the storm, or when policyholders began negotiating with their insurance company.

The Texas Department of Insurance interprets the deadline as the latter, but Allstate ties the deadline to the date of the storm.

The first trials could occur in November.