William R. Dejean
William has a history of nationwide trial litigation in the National Flood Insurance Program, environmental, municipal, and police defense. He has successfully defended the City of Bogalusa, LA, in a large, class-action suit surrounding the release of chlorine from a city-owned water facility at the bellwether trial level. William has tried several NFIP cases, with zero or de minimis judgments. He has also prevailed at the U.S. Court of Appeal level. He maintains a varied litigation practice within the firm, including environmental, premises liability, auto liability, insurance defense, and even dog bites. Prior to law school, William served as a special education teacher in a public high school.
Tulane University Law School, New Orleans, Louisiana
Juris Doctor – 1993
Certificate in Environmental Law
University of New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana
Bachelor of Arts – 1988
Major: Secondary Education
- State of Louisiana, 1994
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana
- U.S. District Court Middle District of Louisiana
- U.S. District Court Western District of Louisiana
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Texas
- U.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of North Carolina
- U.S. District Court Northern District Iowa
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Iowa
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Arkansas
- U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida
- U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida
- U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- District of New Jersey
- District of Colorado
- U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit (not all are current)
- Louisiana State Bar Association
- Jefferson Bar Association
Upheld Federal Regulations Surrounding the National Flood Insurance Program
Lead trial and appellate counsel for insurance carrier participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”). The plaintiff sought damages under the NFIP Standard Flood Insurance Policy (“SFIP”) for equipment attached to the exterior of an icehouse on Dauphin Island, Alabama. The case involved interpretation of Federal regulations, waivers of same by Federal officials, estoppel claims against the Government involving Federal funds, the Appropriations Clause, strict compliance with Federal policies involving U.S. Treasury dollars, preemption of state law, and interpretation of Rule 59(e) relating to altering or amending the underlying summary judgment. The Client/Carrier prevailed at the district court level and appellate level in the Eleventh Circuit.
Saved Federal Flood Insurance Carrier Potential Million Dollar Claim Via Summary Judgment
Successfully obtained a summary judgment dismissal pursuant to the Standard Flood Insurance Policy involving a multi-story condominium building in New Orleans. The flood insurance carrier was then called on to defend the plaintiff’s appeal. At the Fifth Circuit, Will successfully upheld the standard policy requirement for a timely, sworn Proof of Loss from the insured. Strict adherence to the terms of the policy was again an issue, as was estoppel against the Government by a claimant seeking Federal funds, which are used to pay all National Flood Insurance Program claims.
Successful Strategy Saved Village From Ruinous Judgment
Successfully defended a local municipality against landowners downstream from the Village of Folsom, Louisiana, sewage treatment plant who sued the Town under the Federal Clean Water Act Citizens Suit provisions complaining of the treated and untreated effluent from the plant which emptied into a ravine which flowed through their properties. Knowing that the Clean Water Act Citizens Suit provisions would be barred if the regulatory agency in charge (herein, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality) was “diligently prosecuting” an enforcement action regarding Folsom’s violations of the Act, Will took steps to alert the Department of Folsom’s violations such that it would begin an enforcement action. Understanding the workings of the Department, Will reasoned penalties from the Department would be less onerous than a judgment from the bench under the Citizens Suit. Folsom’s penalty was to take out low-interest loans from an available program, which allowed it to build a state-of-the-art sequencing batch reactor treatment plant, negating any future Clean Water Act violations by Folsom. Relying on the provisions of the Clean Water Act, Will determined that the plaintiffs’ Citizens Suit was not timely filed nor met the requirements of the Act’s Citizens Suit provisions, allowing for time to get the Department of Environmental Quality involved in the suit. At the district court level, as lead counsel, the plaintiffs’ Clean Water Act Citizen Suit was dismissed with prejudice.
No Double Recovery Leads to Zero Dollar Judgment on Appeal
Successfully overturned the nominal amount awarded by the lower court on appeal in a matter involving flood damage in Galveston, Texas. A major issue at trial was whether the Proof of Loss form submitted by the Plaintiffs’ counsel on their behalf was an accurate statement of the scope of the Plaintiffs’ flood loss, as the Proof of Loss to support a Standard Flood Insurance Policy claim must be sworn. The court (this was a bench trial) found that the Plaintiffs’ counsel did overvalue the flood loss. While the court found that the Plaintiffs were entitled to additional funds from the flood insurance carrier for their loss, Will was able to successfully argue the “One Satisfaction Rule,” or “double recovery rule” which provides that a plaintiff may not be compensated twice for the same loss. The plaintiffs received a lump sum amount from their wind carrier which did not designate which items were being compensated. The court found that the plaintiffs had been fully compensated under the wind and flood policies for the value of their home. As such, the Plaintiffs took a small judgment of $2,500 for auto parts, which was subsequently overturned on appeal.
De Minimis Judgment on Large Claim
Successfully limited the judgment in two-day bench trial in which the plaintiffs sought $125,000 in damages under their flood insurance policy, which was $80,000 more than flood carrier had paid them to date. The plaintiffs’ home only flooded to a depth of about 1” in limited areas of the home. However, one of the plaintiffs had a medical condition rendering her allergic to a wide range of substances, and sought compensation for items not damaged by flood because they may have been contaminated by other pathogens, such as mold, relying on her medical condition as justification for these payments. As the Standard Flood Insurance Policy only pays for direct physical loss from flood, the plaintiffs’ claims were largely defeated. The court issued a de minimis judgment of $1,093.