Slabbed is the place if you want to see Qui balance with Tam in the Rigsby sisters Qui Tam claim against State Farm.
Qui Tam is all about balance – the interest of the one who blows the whistle on a false claim against the government (the realtor) as well as the interest of the government.
Increasing and increasingly vicious attacks on the whistle blowing Rigsby sisters, Cori and Kerri, escalated to include their Qui Tam attorneys after USA v Scruggs was “out of the way” and the focus shifted to disqualifying the member firms of SKG reformed after Scruggs indictment as KLG as well as the Qui Tam Lawyers from Missouri who were never a part of the Scruggs or the KLG joint venture.
Slabbed is committed to balance and we work hard to provide it on every issue – so, if you’re looking for balance on the Rigsby’s Qui Tam case and justice for all, this is the place.
We have written extensively from a very non legal perspective as we learned our way around the concepts of Qui tam and the False Claims Act. Nowdy wrote an excellent Q&A post here which debunked the many of the arguments used by State Farm’s legal PR machine against the Rigsby sisters. We noted the latest batch of State Farm legal motions to disqualify the Qui Tam Lawyers Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson & Gorny looked mighty weak here, here and here.
We start by addressing the imbalance that brought us to this point – or rather the point of the dager inserted in a recent filing by the Rigsby sister’s Qui Tam attorneys.
Paragraph 4 of Defendant” response appears to rely on (or fan) Internet speculation that Mr. Dewitt broke into State Farm’s computer network to take and share information with SKG and/or KLG.
There are several law blogs that have done some justice to the the insurance litigation here. Consumer insurance lawyer and wind-water combatant Chip Merlin graces our selective blogroll because of his incredibly insightful and forward thinking posts. Insurance industry lawyer and legal theorist David Rossmiller tells the story of the litigation from the industry’s point of view far from the trenches in Portland, Oregon. He does a good job posting and analyzing PACER filings. Dimechimes, an insurance adjusters blog out of Florida is the adjusters equivalent of consumer oriented slabbed. They do a great job monitoring other blogs plus adding their own content and perspective to the post Katrina litigation. Folo is a anti-Dickie Scruggs blog that sometimes wanders off into the Katrina litigation. It is moderated by a health insurance defense lawyer who had inside connections to the Dickie Scruggs Judicial Bribery scandal. Their Scruggs coverage, though strongly biased against Mr Scruggs was second to none in the entire blogosphere.
Something strange happened though, the right wing political blog Yallpolitics became an adjunct State Farm PR mouthpiece along with Folo, where one of the moderators openly hoped the Missouri Bar were reading so disciplinary action could be taken against former US Attorney Todd Graves based only upon the mention of the first name “Todd” in a deposition. Even worse lawyer/moderator NMC then parroted the State Farm party line on the disqualification of Todd Graves and then passed judgement on Todd Graves on the mere mention of a first name and less than rigorous analysis of the Risgby depositions. Frankly the analysis out of so called experts has been both dismal and most telling. While Nowdy and I were boning up I had to laugh at the people that will certainly be made to look very silly in revealing their biases against the Rigsby sisters and the people of the gulf coast who had lost their houses.
David Rossmiller, the originator of the Trailer Todd hypothesis has run for some cover today revealing what those of us who actually read the Rigsby depositions knew all along, there were multiple meetings between the Rigsby sisters and lawyers. However he continues to perpetuate a myth based on nothing but speculation, that Tony DeWitt and Todd Graves accessed the documents taken from Renfroe. Nothing wrong with such speculation though, Mr Rossmiller has been a faithful shill for State Farm throughout the Katrina litigation.
Now, for some balance.
Here is what those who follow this litigation in detail haven’t seen yet posted in the blogosphere, the opposing viewpoint of the Rigsby Qui Tam lawyers. Strangely the pro insurance industry blogs that were quick to trumpet the State Farm legal filings and demanding proof of Todd Graves whereabouts on March 11, 2006 missed these early responses which we have added to our growing library of Qui Tam case documents.
I found the both of the new filings to be brief, to the point and extremely well written. The first fallacy lies in assuming unethical conduct from Todd Graves and Tony DeWitt which State Farm’s lawyers manufactured in detail in their original lengthy motion to disqualify. The second is even stranger with their opposition to the relator’s motion for an emergency stay in the proceeding applying the logic of the DQ of the Katrina Litigation Group to Tony DeWitt and Todd Graves. This passage from the rebuttal to State Farm’s memo tells the tale.
Respondents have raised the issue of whether or not Graves Bartle & Marcus LLC or Bartimus, Fricltleton, Robertson & Gorny, P.C. can represent Relators, and whether Relators can pursue the claim of the United States. Relators claim Defendants defrauded the United States in a quest to preserve their profits. Given the importance of these claims, an orderly briefing schedule is necessary, and it should give due consideration to the issues raised in the flurry of motions this week. Consideration of the disqualification would minimize any potential disruptions later in the case.
State Farm is already of several minds on the issue. On Wednesday, it strongly believed that 100 pages of briefing and exhibits were necessary to seek an order of disqualification. With a new dawn, it believes the relief was granted last Friday, and suggests that briefing on several issues continue apace.
This smacks of tactical disqualification. State Farm is trying to drive a wedge between Relators’ and their attorneys, using an order from another case, dealing with a different subject matter, and involving different attorneys. The threshold issue is whether the United States’ relators can have continuity of counsel, or whether State Farm’s should be allowed to threaten discontinuity at every turn.
This Court obviously has the authority to answer the threshold issue, particularly where there is a charge of unethical conduct by attorneys practicing before it. State Farm cannot now argue that counsel were disqualified already while it also argues that the Court is helpless to consider the issue until a parade of subject matter jurisdiction motions pass by. State Farm should not be allowed to hold the Court, Relators, and the United States captive with tactical motions.
Tony DeWitt and David Marcus are not done though. They call out the poor quality of the analysis on certain Internet blogs in a footnote to their reply to Renfroe. Clearly they are not going to take an Alan Lange-Tom Freeland-David Rossmiller hatchet job without a fight.
Here is the relevant text from the rebuttal reply to EA Renfroe’s Motion and Memorandum.
Defendant Renfroe attempts to argue the merits of the Motion to Disqualify while avoiding the merits of Relators’ Motion for Stay. Defendants’ rush to substitute their own judgment for that of the Court, and their own sensational story for the facts, demonstrates the need for orderly and logical consideration of the pending motions.
Defendants short replies include many incorrect assumptions. The Court’s order in Mclntosh does not disqualify persons because Mr. Scruggs moved for their admission pro hack vice, contra Def. Renfroe’s Memo. at para. 3. Counsel in this matter were not part of the SKG (or KLG) contra Def. Renfroe’s Memo. at para. 4. Defendants’ fantastic hype concerning Mr.Dewitt id., verges on farce.† But Relators reserve the right to respond to Defendants’ many inaccuracies at the appropriate time.
The dagger (†) points us to the footnote and serves notice on those who hold themselves out as lawyers that shoddy analysis simply will not do.
Paragraph 4 of Defendant” response appears to rely on (or fan) Internet speculation that Mr. Dewitt broke into State Farm’s computer network to take and share information with SKG and/or KLG. Without waiving any privileges. counsel note that the only “State Farm [sic] computer system” accessed by Mr. Dewitt was Ms. Rigsby’s laptop, to copy files already on that computer. Mr. Dewitt did not access State Farm’s network or servers. Bloggers with day jobs can be excused for hasty conclusions based on partial transcripts. Defendants’ counsel, however, should know better. Relators look forward to the opportunity to address these issues completely at the appropriate time.
Looks like Tony Dewitt will give us plenty to balance as he seems ready to get it on against the lies, slander and outrageous attacks on his professionalism and ethics and let the facts of the Rigsby sisters’ claim stand on their own so this case can be decided on its merit rather than PR spin.