I just can’t help myself, this excerpt from Kerri Rigsby’s 1-26-07 deposition needs to be out here and Sop got called away before he could get the kick-off post up. It is absolutely incredible by every sense of the word.
The next thing that was unusual or irregular was that we would be paying our flood claims immediately. Normally flood is a – is a more tedious claim to work. There’s a lot of paper, a lot of protocol, documents that go along with the flood program that you have to fill out. And they were shortening that process, which was great for the policyholder. We didn’t have to get a — you know, we didn’t have to use al the documents that we previously used. They gave us a program where we could write an estimate quickly called XactTotal. And they advised that we could use that, where we put in a square foot and it spit our a dollar amount.
We were told we could go ahead and pay those flood claims right away, and then we would order an engineer after that, which was unusual because, in my mind, I thought, well, that was kind of strange that we would go ahead and pay before the investigation was — you know, they were saying they needed to be investigated. I thought, well, it’s good that we’re getting money into the policyholder’s hands.
So at the time, I thought, that’s great. We can go ahead and give them this money. They can — they have money to get started on what they need to do.
So it was — it was just unusual that we would go ahead and pay for policy limits under a flood claim and then send an engineer to investigate. I thought that was unusual.
Q. Was the engineer — let me ask you this: Was there any doubt in your mind that — let me start again.
Did you think that investigations needed to be made as to the extent of flood damage?
A. I don’t — I think we all knew that this hurricane had wind and it had water. It was never — this whole thing that has come up was never about wind or water, but we knew there was water, and we knew there was wind.
And I think — I think they felt like at the time that there was so much water, that it had destroyed the home and we would definitely owe that money, so let’s go ahead and get it out there. We need to determine how much wind damage there was to the home so we can determine how much to pay.
Q. Under the wind policy.
A. Under the wind policy, is what I was thinking and what possibly they were thinking at the time. I don’t know. But, anyway, that was my guess on why they were doing it the way they were doing it.
Q. Okay. So you just considered that to be a difference, but you didn’t consider there to be anything wrong with their changing the policy; is that correct.
A. Correct. At the time, I didn’t think that way. I trusted State Farm and their judgment. It did not — I didn’t analyze it.
A. I started hearing or adjusters would come to me or I would overhear them talking about meeting with the engineers out at the property with the policyholder and the engineer to inspect the property, and that the engineer would review the damage with the policyholder and say, this is what I see and this is what I’m going to put in my report, and you should receive my report in a couple of weeks.
And the adjuster, you know — and they were kind of like me, just — they didn’t really know what was going on. And they’d say, well — but, Kerri, the report didn’t come in a couple of weeks, and when it did, it didn’t say anything that the engineer said it was going to say and it didn’t have the same engineer’s name on it. So, I would hear things like that.
And again, you know I just kind of oh, well, that’s odd. That’s strange. And blew it off. I didn’t — didn’t think much about it still.
Q. What period of time was this happening?
A. We ordered engineers right — reports right away. and they started coming in in October, I believe is when we started receiving our first ones.
So after that, you know, I would hear things like that. And then I had an adjuster one day at work come up and say, I don’t think I was supposed to get this and handed me an engineer report. I don’t even remember the company it came from now, but it just said, do not discuss, do not pay. And I still– still I’m in denial. And I think, oh, well, I’ll just go pull the file and put this in the file because it’s been misplaced. Because normally when we order an engineer report, it goes in the file.
Q. And what did you discover when you put it in the file?
A. Well, I discovered there was another engineer report already in the file. And that kind of brings me back to another irregularity. Normally when we order an engineer report, the engineer report would come to the adjuster or the adjuster’s team manager. But in this storm, they said that we — the adjuster could not — you know, that all the orders for the adjusters would be made through Lecky King, and that we were not to contact the engineering company about the report, and that Lecky would review all reports before they went out to the adjusters, which I thought was strange, too. Because in — I worked with her in Pensacola, and that was’t the procedure over there.
And she even went as far to say that the reports will be under lock and key, which made no sense to any of us becuase the report’s supposed to come to the adjuster so they can proceed with the claim. I didn’t understand why they needed to be under lock and key and that the adjuster couldn’t contact the engineer.
Team managers said, this smells bad faith to me. I mean, they knew. Every — it was just kind of an underlying what’s going on.
But again, you just keep going. It’s hectic. You’re working a lot, conditions are bad. And you just — you keep going. But when you, you know get an e-mail that says reports will be kept under lock and key you wonder why.
So anyway, that was — so I knew when I got this report and it’s not under lock and key and I’m holding it, I still don’t think anything about it. Again, I go to the file, and that’s when I see the other engineer report, the revised version.
I read the two reports and compared them and realized finally what was going on.
And what did you perceive was going on?
That reports were coming to Lecky, and she was reviewing them. If she didn’t agree with them, she would have them changed.
I recognized the handwriting, and I knew it was Lecky’s so I brought the report back to her and gave it to her. And I said — I asked her, I said, I suppose I wasn’t supposed to get this report. And she said, no, you weren’t. And she took it out of my hands. So, I brought it back to her.
Q. Additional concerns?
A. The other thing — the other things, the first, which this is kind of obvious, but I was back at Lecky King’s desk for another matter. And there was a stack of engineering reports on her desk, quite a large stack. And she said, look at all these engineer reports that I have to send back.
And I believe Lisa Wachter, a trainer that worked with Lecky, assisted Lecky, was standing there. And she said, all these engineers must be related to the policyholders because they all say there’s wind damage down here, and we know there wasn’t.
So that was an irregularity. We normally — when we get an expert opinion, we usually go with that expert opinion. That’s why we hire them, because we need them. And I don’t know in the years that I’ve worked with State Farm that I’ve ever seen them not go with an engineer opinion.
And then after that episode at Lecky’s desk a memo came out that said they were cancelling all the engineer reports. Well, when we got that notification and they were sending this out, we realized this wasn’t just Lecky. Because what they were doing was they were telling the engineering companies not to write a report. And in the memo, it is stated, do not write the report. We will pay your bill or invoice without a report.
Now to my knowledge, I’ve never known State Farm to pay reports they didn’t get, and I didn’t understand why they were willing to do that.
What they had created was a spreadsheet with all the policyholders who had engineering reports ordered or canceled or duplicates or they put out their in-peer review or all their little codes. And it was a spreadsheet, and it was e-mailed out to the management team.
Q. To the State Farm management team?
A. State Farm management team. And we — it was e-mailed to us as well, independent management team, at the Gulfport office. This was all happening at the Gulfport office. So we knew who had engineering reports ordered whether they ever received them or not.
Q. Do you still have a copy of that spreadsheet?
A. We had — it is with the documents. That spreadsheet is with the documents.