Breaking News: Hood Opens New Criminal Investigation of State Farm

Well wouldn’t you know it if good ole Jim Hood ain’t steppin’ in to do Dunn Lampton’s job and bring them crooks at State Farm to justice for dumpin’ their wind obligations on the us taxpayers via the flood program. This Cowboy did a post on the topic and Sop did one with pictures to show how them crooks did it and stole from Uncle Sam hisself.

Jim Hood has been listenin’ folks and has heard our cries for justice. If George Bush and his political band of big business boot lickers at the US Justice Department in DC won’t brings these crooks to justice thank God we got Jim Hood!

Hood, Moore moving into action against State Farm

By ANITA LEE[email protected]

Mississippi’s current and former attorneys general are back on the offensive against State Farm insurance companies.

Attorney General Jim Hood is asking a federal judge to dissolve a court order that prevents him from continuing a criminal investigation involving State Farm. Hood says the investigation is not related to a 2006 criminal probe by his office into State Farm’s handling of policyholders’ Hurricane Katrina claims.

The suspended investigation is secret, but court records indicate State Farm sued to stop it after Hood tried to subpoena company records.

Meanwhile, former Attorney General Mike Moore said in a sworn statement that he and Hood did not use the threat of criminal prosecution in late 2006 to coerce State Farm into settlement of policyholders’ Hurricane Katrina claims, as State Farm alleges.

Instead, Moore’s statement said, State Farm insisted Hood agree to drop his prosecution of the company before it would sign on to a proposed global settlement of policyholders’ claims reached in early January 2007.

Hood did agree to end his 2006 investigation of State Farm, but he says that promise hinged federal court approval for a global settlement of policyholder claims.

The proposed settlement failed to win court approval. State Farm contends it has honored its agreement by re-evaluating claims through the Mississippi Department of Insurance. However, Hood says the company failed to live up to standards set out in the original settlement proposal.

The legal dispute has been clouded by the indictment of policyholders’ attorneys from the Scruggs Law Firm, which withdrew from the legal partnership then renamed the Katrina Litigation Group. While the indictment was not directly related to policyholders’ lawsuits against State Farm, the company has accused Scruggs of ethical and legal violations in the lawsuits and questioned his relationship to Hood and his criminal proceedings.

Scruggs reached a settlement of 640 policyholder claims with State Farm in November 2006, according to a State Farm letter. The global settlement of other Coast claims, reached in January 2007, was rejected by U.S. District Court Judge L.T. Senter Jr.

From Insurance Regulator to Insurance Lobbyist: Incest in the System

It turns out George Dale is not the only local insurance commissioner going straight from his elected office to work in the Insurance Industrial Complex. Strangely Adams and Reese was silent on their hiring of Robert Wooley, the first insurance commissioner in Louisiana in several years not in jail because of corruption. This quote from the story sums up why none of the authors of this blog trust our insurance regulators and is the basis for our opinion that federal oversight of this industry is well past due:

“Bob Hunter, a former Texas insurance commissioner who is director of insurance at the Consumer Federation of America, said that Dale’s new job at a law firm that represents so many insurance interests is another unfortunate tale of regulators caring more about the industry than the people who elected them.

“Nothing surprises me any more. The insurance industry and the regulators are so intertwined. We’ve had now two presidents of the NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners) go directly to lobbying jobs with the insurance industry, and we’ve had so many former insurance commissioners head off in that direction, it’s disgusting. How can the public trust state regulation with all this going on?” Hunter asked.”


AIken v USAA Continues: More Employees Take the Stand

Yesterday the trial resumed after the holiday break with Rimkus and USAA employees taking the witness stand. From the looks of the Sun Herald story, yesterday was not very eventful as employees from Rimkus and USAA took the stand to deny the engineering reports were changed simply to save USAA money. Given what we have found regarding the McKinsey consulting recommendations regarding claims handling and its apparent widespread use across the insurance industry as the new claims adjusting bible I have a hard time believing those statements. This would never come out in Court but I’d love to see if just one of these altered engineering reports resulted in a favorable change for the claimant/insured. Forgive the sarcasm but I suspect if such were the case pink pigs really do fly…..


USAA employees testify in case
By ANITA LEE [email protected]

GULFPORT –Employees testified that USAA Casualty Insurance Co. did not conspire with engineering firm Rimkus Consulting Group Inc. to deny coverage to a couple after Hurricane Katrina.

“Absolutely not,” said Rimkus manager Paul Colman, whose denial was echoed by two USAA claims managers testifying in the second week of the U.S. District Court trial.

The three were called to the stand Tuesday by the plaintiffs’ attorneys, who are trying to prove USAA pressured Rimkus to change reports that would minimize what the company owed for wind damage.

USAA paid David W. and Marilyn M. Aiken $178,205 for wind damage on a policy that exceeded $680,000 in coverage for their Pass Christian vacation home. The Metairie couple is seeking full coverage, plus punitive damages based on the allegation their claim was denied in bad faith.

USAA employee William McNamara, who supervises adjusters and coordinated work by engineering firms after Katrina, testified Tuesday afternoon. He said Rimkus provided reports for USAA on 200 properties. McNamara also verified he called Rimkus to request its engineering report on the damage be corrected and include more detail.

McNamara said he was not attempting to change the engineering company’s opinion about the cause of damage. Instead, he said, USAA needed the wind damage detailed in order to estimate what the Aikens were owed.

Rimkus had closed the file in December, after sending USAA a report that said, in part: “It cannot be visually determined from the remaining physical evidence the percentage of damage resulting from surge forces and the percentage of damage resulting from wind forces.” Federal flood insurance covered the Aiken’s damage from storm surge, paying them policy limits of $250,000 – less than half the home’s value.

A day after McNamara contacted Rimkus in March 2006, the engineering firm sent USAA a “supplemental report” that listed construction components most likely damaged by wind, including gutters, the roof, siding and trim. The supplemental findings also said a storm surge of 20 feet above ground, excluding waves, destroyed building super- structures.