Federal court in NOLA rules against State Farm on claim of mental anguish

First the story; then the background in Louisiana law where you see familiar names such as Weiss and Sher.

Peter and Sandra Perrien own a home located at 426 Moonraker Drive in Slidell, Louisiana. The home sustained significant damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina. At the time of Hurricane Katrina, State Farm entities provided the flood insurance and the homeowner’s insurance on the Perriens’ property.

Following the hurricane, plaintiffs filed claims with State Farm under both the homeowner’s policy and the flood policy. State Farm paid plaintiffs the dwelling and contents limits under the flood policy and paid plaintiffs approximately $9,000.00 for damage to the roof and approximately $11,000 in additional living expenses under the homeowner’s policy. State Farm denied the remainder of plaintiffs’ claim under the homeowner’s policy on the basis that the other damage had resulted from flood, an excluded peril under the homeowner’s policy.

Thereafter plaintiffs filed suit against State Farm seeking to recover, the policy limits under their homeowner’s policy as well as damages for “[p]ast, present and future mental anguish and distress.” (Doc. 1-4, p.5).

State Farm filed a motion for partial summary judgment seeking the dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims for mental anguish and distress.

Now, here’s where it gets a little tricky for our friends in Louisiana – state law there applies to mental anquish and no doubt has caused much of same for those slabbed by Katrina, Rita or the levee. Continue reading “Federal court in NOLA rules against State Farm on claim of mental anguish”

Sher went back to the levee – still came up dry but will Corps get by?

I’m going to take the easy way out and post the Sher update from this comment on the ALL Board.

The Louisiana Supreme Court refused Tuesday to reconsider its recent ruling that an insurance company isn’t liable for water damage from the failure of levees in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath.

The court ruled in April that Lafayette Insurance Co. isn’t obligated to pay policyholder Joseph Sher, the owner of a New Orleans apartment complex, for water damage from levee breaches after the August 2005 hurricane.

Sher’s lawyers asked the court for a rehearing on that issue, but the justices rejected their request Tuesday without giving an explanation.

“It’s over now,” said attorney Howard Kaplan, who represents Lafayette. “It puts the flood issue to an end.”

Last year, a state appeals court ruled that Lafayette’s homeowner policy failed to exclude all forms of flooding because its language was ambiguous. The Supreme Court disagreed, however, and said Lafayette is entitled to limit its liability for damage from a levee breach.

Our friends at the Ladder have been on top of levee stories and had this report on a new attempt to hold the Corps accountable – along with some interesting history. Continue reading “Sher went back to the levee – still came up dry but will Corps get by?”

Around the GO Zone in 60 Seconds: Hancock County Edition Money Money Money!!!

My mind has been elsewhere lately but like a squirel collecting pecans I’ve been saving links as there seems a good bit of news is coming from the west side of the coast.

First off the the grand re opening of the Bay-Waveland Yacht Club. JR Welsh has the report:

“We’re coming back. Bay St. Louis is coming back. Let’s do it together,” Commodore Judy Reeves told the crowd.

The new 10,500-square-foot building is made of concrete and steel. It has a dining room that will seat 200, a bar, boardroom, offices and locker rooms.

After Katrina wiped out the old clubhouse, a temporary club with trailers and a deck was back in place by January 2006. Ground was broken for the new clubhouse in September 2007.

The yacht club has a long history that has experienced bad luck on more than one occasion. The original building was located at the foot of Washington Street. It was completed in 1897 at a cost of $2,500 and was destroyed by a hurricane in 1915. Continue reading “Around the GO Zone in 60 Seconds: Hancock County Edition Money Money Money!!!”

Anita Lee Reports on the "Worst" Insurers for Claims Handling

This report by the American Association of Justice tells the tale as Anita Lee reports:

Allstate is the nation’s worst insurance company for consumers, an association of lawyers who sue big business concludes in a report released Wednesday.

“The rankings show a distinct pattern of insurance industry greed amongst 10 companies that refuse to pay just claims, employ hardball tactics against policyholders, reward executives with extravagant salaries, and raise premiums while hoarding excessive profits,” the American Association for Justice concludes.

Researchers spent six months compiling information from court documents, SEC and FBI records, state insurance department investigations and complaints, nationwide news accounts, and testimony of former insurance agents and adjusters.

The bad press never seems to let up much these days. The full report is here.

Covering the Coverers: Mowbray Wins Another Award, So Does Bloomberg

I saw in yesterday’s Times Picayune Rebecca Mowbray has won another journalism award for excellence in covering insurance issues raised by Katrina and Rita. Earlier this year she won the Enterprise Award for her article  “Same house. Same repairs. Same insurer. Why different prices?”. Now she is recognized for the totality of her work in winning the 2008 Award for Excellence in Economic Reporting, which recognizes coverage of policies and markets.

“Rebecca Mowbray caught the private insurance industry red-handed,” said Newsweek’s Rich Thomas, chairman of the panel of judges. “She and The Times-Picayune prove that insurers unfairly dumped tens of millions of dollars of their own wind- and rain-damage losses in the Katrina hurricane onto a gullible government.”

Thomas added that Mowbray’s stories “helped force the federal government to revise its own procedures to prevent another private raid on the public treasury in future disasters.”

The award will be presented Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

That is certainly one way of putting it Mr Thomas. Good to see others also see it.

Meantime The Bloomberg piece The Insurance Hoax won a prestigious New York press club award Continue reading “Covering the Coverers: Mowbray Wins Another Award, So Does Bloomberg”

Evidence of out-of-state conduct next up in McIntosh v State Farm

Judge Senter issued a text only order yesterday giving counsel for McIntosh additional time to file their response.

TEXT ONLY ORDER granting Plaintiffs’ 1222 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply re 1215 MOTION in Limine No. 6: To Exclude Evidence of Out-of-State Conduct (Renewed). Plaintiffs’ Response shall be due no later than 7/16/2008. NO FURTHER WRITTEN ORDER SHALL ISSUE. Signed by District Judge L. T. Senter, Jr., on July 9, 2008.

Just days earlier, June 23 to be exact, ever faithful follower E.A. Renfroe had filed an objection to Senter’s April 23 Order requiring State Farm to enter individual objections to each witness McIntosh counsel proposed to call.

The Court did not set a schedule for filing such objections, but stated that the Court will rule on these objections at or before the pre-trial conference. [1187 at 2.] Accordingly, Renfroe files these objections to Plaintiffs’ proffered evidence of out-of-state conduct, some of which refers to State Farm’s use of independent adjusters from Renfroe and other adjusting services companies.

Plaintiffs have identified twelve documents and two witnesses pursuant to the Court’s April 23, 2008 order that they intend to offer at trial and which have not been previously disclosed. None of this evidence involves the McIntosh claim. Rather, it all relates to other, dissimilar claims against State Farm and its related entities, and cases to which Renfroe was not a party.

These cases are Watkins, et al. v. State Farm Fire and Casualty, et al. (“Watkins”) (Plaintiffs’ proffered Exhibits 1-8, 12, testimony of Messrs. Strzelec and Ryles), State Farm Lloyds v. Nicolau, 951 S.W. 2d 444 (Tex. 1997) (“Nicolau”) (Plaintiffs’ proffered Exhibits 10- 12, testimony of Messrs. Strzelec and Ryles), and Campbell v. State Farm (“Campbell”) (Plaintiffs’ proffered Exhibit 91). (emphasis added) Continue reading “Evidence of out-of-state conduct next up in McIntosh v State Farm”

Renfroe offers support to Rigsby sisters before filing suit – Go figure!

Renfroe’s employment agreement and Code of Conduct do not forbid employees from disclosing fraud to policyholders or to the public – So says the Rigsbys’ counsel in their latest filing on the Motion for Summary Judgment re: plaintiff Renfroe’s claim of breach of contract.

The employment agreement and Code of Conduct do not forbid employees of Renfroe from disclosing fraud to policyholders or to the public. (See Employment agreement attached as Exhibit F & E) Renfroe employees are not to be complicit in fraud on policyholders. (See Jana Renfroe Depo. I, at 254:14-22 & 353:9-10).

And, so they say, Renfroe employees who observe fraud are permitted to report it to the authorities and to turn over documentary evidence without the consent of Renfroe.

In fact, they not only say, they show as evidence a Gene Refroe letter to Kerri Rigsby, dated September 1, 2006 (Exhibit G). Cori got one, too, by the way.

We understand that you have or may have provided documents or other information to law enforcement authorities. We support your behavior in that respect, and do not question its propriety or appropriateness.” (emphasis added)

What a puzzle it must have been to receive this letter and then days later find the propriety and appropriateness of their behavior the subject of a lawsuit Renfroe filed in Alabama. Continue reading “Renfroe offers support to Rigsby sisters before filing suit – Go figure!”