Disagreement reigns over whether Hurricane Katrina lawsuits are close to settlement or now, according to Mississippi officials. 2

Disagreement reigns over whether Hurricane Katrina lawsuits are close to settlement or now, according to Mississippi officials.

State Farm, the largest U.S. home insurer, said it is close to settling hundreds of lawsuits over its payments for homes wrecked by Hurricane Katrina along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but the state said no agreement had been reached.

A State Farm spokesman confirmed a report in Tuesday’s New York Times which cited lawyers briefed on the talks but would not provide additional comment.

But Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Gale denied that any agreement had been reached.

“We’ve been involved in some negotiations with some parties but we’re not at a point of there being a solution,” he said at an insurance conference.

The newspaper said a settlement of 639 lawsuits for $80 million could be the first step in resolving a legal battle between homeowners and their insurance companies that has threatened to drag on for years.

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