News of settling and unsettling news – such is the life of the slabbed

This week’s Katrina news came in snapshots that slowly revealed a rather disturbing picture. Let’s take a look starting with the motion filed by Lumpkin & Reeves to clarify the firm’s eligibility in McIntosh v State Farm.

While I was trying to decide where to post the motion, State Farm filed a response – their opposition was not surprising but I was far from the only one shocked by their undocumented reference to supporting blog comments.

Given the first hit for this search, I felt cited-sub-silentio by this sentence: “As several commentors have observed, the KLG’s highly unethical acts have exposed its constituent law firms to potential lawsuits for legal malpractices by their clients.” Do you think they had any particular commentor in mind?

What really blew me away, however, was this documented reference to State Farm’s unethical conduct contained in the Lumpkin-Reeves reply.

The instant Motion to Disqualify Lumpkin & Reeves is part of an apparent ongoing campaign by State Farm to prohibit its policyholders from having any legal representation in an effort to force settlements with former policyholders without legal representation.

See Correspondence dated April 29, 2008 to Elaine Mangano attached as Exhibit “A”. Ms. Mangano is an elderly client of Lumpkin & Reeves. State Farm has intentionally communicated with her after it knew Lumpkin & Reeves had appeared as counsel of record in her case. This is an intentional and unethical interference with a known contractual relationship which demonstrates State Farm’s true motives, i.e. to take advantage of unrepresented hurricane victims.

Before I could catch my breath, I discovered State Farm had contacted all clients of the disqualified KLG attorneys inviting settlement and 13 lawyer-less plaintiffs had actually settled – leaving me to wonder at what point a settlement becomes a bribe and why Judge Senter didn’t take steps to protect those left without representation by his order of disqualification.

Yet others were certain of what these lawyer-less settlements represented.

No doubt due to their innate goodness, State Farm settled directly with about a dozen unlawyered plaintiffs. With the 5th Circuit’s help SF has suceeded in sending the message that you will never get paid unless you settle on our terms.

The Clarion Ledger story noted the concern about these lawyer-less settlements expressed by coast attorney Judy Guice followed by her saying she understood why some would go ahead – “People have got to be able to put this behind them and move on with their lives,” she said.

It would seem those unable to move on for almost three years were least able to go it alone after their attorneys were disqualified – even more than those Lost amid the chaos of repair roofs and routines.

For almost three years, the focus of everyday life for thousands of South Mississippians has been restoring roofs and routines. For many families, it’s still a full-time task.

But the hectic confusion of reestablishing homes, businesses and schools has distracted from and also disguised Hurricane Katrina’s damage to our community’s mental health, particularly to the children.

It’s a type of damage that cannot remain hidden. Long before any actual assessment was made, the evidence was piling up in teachers’ reports of behavior problems, in school drop- out rates, and in alarming increases in drug and alcohol abuse, violence, crime and suicides.

Such is the life of the slabbed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *