SLABBED Daily: May 30 – 31

beachKnowing how much I’ll miss all the good company I’ve enjoyed this week, it still surprised me to read that Allstate is having a similar sad.

Allstate Chief Executive Tom Wilson said the insurer was trying to stem the loss of customers that he fears are unhappy with its services.

Allstate has renewed its focus on customer service, and employees that don’t embrace it will be shown the door, Wilson said at Sanford’s Strategic Decisions Conference on Thursday.

“We are losing too many, we think because they are not happy,” Wilson said.

Amazingly, it appears the company has not figured out insurance companies that look for reasons not to pay claims are not going to make customers happy.

Allstate, the largest U.S. publicly traded home and auto insurer, is struggling to keep policyholders Continue reading “SLABBED Daily: May 30 – 31”

Nationwide shows its a$$ in Politz v Nationwide

A bit of  background on Nationwide’s latest assault on Mrs. Politz; but, first an introduction to Mrs. Politz for any new readers:

Mrs. Politz, who is sixty-seven years old, has lost everything she owned, has moved three times since Hurricane Katrina, undergone open-heart surgery, taken care of her terminally ill husband until he ultimately died during this litigation, and has had to come out of retirement and go back to work to make ends meet due to Nationwide’s denial of her claim…

In addition to payment on lost and/or damaged property, Mrs. Politz claims Nationwide’s handling of her claim has caused her physical and emotional distress. However – and this is important – Judge Senter issued an Order limiting this aspect of Mrs. Politz’s claim.

While Mrs. Politz may, in good faith, have the subjective belief that Nationwide’s refusal of her claim for storm damage contributed to her heart condition and to her “depression,” I will not permit her to express that belief in the absence of corroborating medical testimony.

Any discussion of mental or emotional distress will be excluded from evidence during the first phase of this trial when the issue of contract damages alone will be decided…I will limit the evidence that will be admitted in support of the plaintiffs’ claims for emotional distress.

Counsel for Mrs. Politz sought and Judge Senter provided Clarification of the Order with additional detail on the limitations he was placing on related testimony:

While she will not be permitted to testify to any medical diagnosis not established by competent medical evidence, she will be permitted to express the subjective experiences she had as a result of the events at issue. If Politz’s testimony and other evidence submitted in support of her claim for emotional distress and mental anguish meet the two criteria established in University of Southern Mississippi v. Williams…she will be entitled to submit this claim for the consideration of the jury under proper instructions.

First of all, I can’t imagine anyone other than Nationwide looking at the docket documenting the Company’s handling of the Politz claim and expecting a policyholder would not suffer related physical and emotional distress – and, frankly, I expect Nationwide realizes how far they went beyond “reasonable”.

Nonetheless, the Company seems intent on proving just how unreasonable it can be – as if there is some prize awarded for being the bitch of Katrina litigation that drives policyholders to an early grave.

Only the bitch of Katrina litigation would file a Motion for Mental Examination of Plaintiff Pursuant to FRCP35. Continue reading “Nationwide shows its a$$ in Politz v Nationwide”

Spreading knowledge via the internet is sometimes Fraught with danger: Frught v State Farm

To understand how State Farm conducts litigation to the detriment of the court system you have to look at the big picture and how cases such as Watkins in Oklahoma City relate to cases like O’Keefe, Kuehn, and a multitude of others involving bad faith claims adjusting by the Farm here in the aftermath of Katrina. The Farm’s tactics are pretty simple after a major natural disaster. Deny valid claims and then spend the next 7 years or so wearing out individual policyholders in the already clogged US court system in the process slithering their way out of otherwise valid contractual obligations. Simply put, the majority of litigants, just like Thomas McIntosh simply wear out and take peanuts on their claims.

A good way to drag out litigation is to not properly produce evidence during the discovery phase of the litigation and then fight for months over motions to compel witnesses and/or documents. As we’ve said here repeatedly State Farm does this because judges, many former insurance defense lawyers themselves, let them get by with such bad behavior without consequence.

This post and the landing of Frught on our radar screens resulted from one of our readers sending me Magistrate Judge Wilkinson’s related order on this case along with the following note:

It is a travesty every time he gets passed over to be a district judge, simply because he……. (has) no strong political ties. (Judge Wilkinson) knows more about federal procedure than (many of the) judges in the Eastern District of Louisiana Courthouse.

Of course reading Judge Wilkinson’s order immediately sent me to PACER for the original motion to compel and it was there I found the Frught’s lawyers certainly must be a frosty bunch and regular slabbed readers as documents from O’Keefe, a case Nowdy and I have profiled repeatedly here on Slabbed, surface in support of the Frught’s motion to compel. For State Farm, the knowledge we spread is indeed fraught with danger for the company and certain of the unethical lawyers that are willing to do their bidding by ignoring valid discovery requests in hopes the lawyers on the other side are ignorant of the goings on in other cases covering the same issues. It is for that reason and with some pride that I’ll add that lawyers with active wind water cases are not fully representing their clients if they do not read our case profiles regularily.

For the balance of this post I’ll present the docs in the order I read them beginning with Judge Wilkinson’s order on the Frught’s motion to compel:

All of State Farm’s objections to Topics Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 are overruled. Discovery concerning these topics is highly relevant and clearly calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. The topics are in no way vague or unduly burdensome. If State Farm persists in the position taken in its motion papers that it has no knowledge concerning Topics Nos. 3 and 4, despite the evidence presented by plaintiff to the contrary, it should produce a corporate representative to say so under oath, so that the witness may be impeached, if plaintiff can do so. Continue reading “Spreading knowledge via the internet is sometimes Fraught with danger: Frught v State Farm”

Jim Brown hits one out of the Park: Edith Jones and other ultra conservative ideologues tarnish the reputation of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Baton Rouge, Louisiana



Before the President made his choice this week for a new nominee to fill the coming vacancy on the United States Supreme Court, the White House undertook a nationwide search. There were parameters. The pick was certain to be a woman. But by even the widest stretch of standards to be met by any nominee, one thing was pretty clear from the start. No judge serving on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans was given the slightest consideration.

It’s true that the Fifth Circuit is heavy laden with Republican appointees. But that has not been a major stumbling block for the new President so far. His most recent major appointment, the new Ambassador to China, went to Republican Governor John Huntsman, who had set up an exploratory committee to run against President Obama in 2012. And the final choice made on Tuesday of this week, Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor, was initially appointed to the federal bench by President George H. W. Bush.

Being a federal court of appeals judge has become almost a prerequisite to ascending up to the Supreme Court. Every present judge on the Court was elevated from the federal court of appeals system. So one would think the three women on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, all from either Louisiana or Texas, would have been given a perusal review. No way, say the close court watchers. Their qualifications or lack thereof, speak for themselves.

The chief judge is one Edith Jones, who received international notoriety a few years back when she ruled that a fellow named Calvin Burdine, convicted of murder and sentenced to death row, received a fair trial even though his court appointed lawyer slept through a good bit of the trial. A sleeping attorney didn’t’ seem to bother Jones, who wrote in upholding the conviction that “we cannot determine whether the defense counsel slept during a critical stage of Burdine’s trial.” So, according to Jones, it’s OK to nap a bit during a trial if you are representing a defendant who could be (and in this case was) given the death penalty. Just pick and choose when you doze off. Continue reading “Jim Brown hits one out of the Park: Edith Jones and other ultra conservative ideologues tarnish the reputation of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals”

Tyler Durden and Marla / Sop and Nowdy: Bitter Financial Intercourse??

I got a kick out of Tyler Durden’s welcome of Marla to  the Zero Hedge blog mainly because it reminded me of how Nowdy and I sometimes interact:

She pisses me off on a regular basis, but, as the only way to truly grow is through conflict, we all will benefit from her (twisted) perspectives.

Actually I think I piss off Nowdy on a regular basis but man o man has she grown over this past 19 months….;-)

Marla’s first post, like many done by my blog partner Nowdy was a hit out of the park. Is the SEC captured and toothless? You betcha!

In the annals of rank regulatory intercourse there isn’t much more severe debauchery than the distant history that is the BankUnited story. Yes, big bank failures have become so common that they seem to pass through the cycle news unnoticed, untapped and unexplored. The ugly girl on prom night. Attended to briefly, then discarded in the blinding haze of hangover blurred Sunday morning sunshine, a rueful shake of the head and the cursed oath never again to drink Jagermeister. Even the deep investigation into IndyMac seems to have joined the ranks of early morning beer goggle mistakes and is now attended by an endless chorus of “who cares” or perhaps “so what?” Last we checked the remnants of BankUnited were about to be acquired by W.L. Ross & Co., Blackstone Group and Carlyle Group. We wonder if some due diligence details haven’t escaped their notice in the rush to vacuum up the marbles.

Picking through some of BankUnited’s public filings we discovered some interesting details.

From BankUnited’s 2007 10-K:

For the 2007, 2006 and 2005 fiscal years, BankUnited retained the law firm of Camner, Lipsitz and Poller, Professional Association (“CLP”), as general counsel. Alfred R. Camner, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of BankUnited, is the Senior Managing Director of CLP. For the 2007, 2006 and 2005 fiscal years, BankUnited paid CLP approximately $4.9 million, $3.6 million, and $3.5 million, respectively, in legal fees allocable to loan closings, foreclosures, litigation, corporate and other matters. Errin Camner, Managing Director of CLP, is the daughter of Alfred R. Camner. Continue reading “Tyler Durden and Marla / Sop and Nowdy: Bitter Financial Intercourse??”

Slabbed Daily – May 27th: Some insurance litigants never catch a break….

At least not career insurance defense medical expert witness David Aiken who evidently couldn’t decide if he loves or hates his paymaster/insurer USAA in a case we blogged on extensively and gavel to gavel back in early 2008. They evidently never forgave USAA’s other experts – the engineers at Rimkus Consulting whom Judge Senter dismissed from the lawsuit after the plaintiff’s portion of the case was presented. Simply put the Aikens had no case against Rimkus.

Early this morning we were emailed the link to the Aiken’s appeal at the 5th Circuit by a lawyer who finds Mr Aiken’s love-hate relationship with USAA amusing.  Evidently so do the folks at the Times Picayune as they have also run an AP story on yesterday’s decision at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that appeared at this afternoon. Before we link the story we’ll begin with the decision itself on courtesy of Scribd. Continue reading “Slabbed Daily – May 27th: Some insurance litigants never catch a break….”

O’Keefe the Timex of Katrina litigation – update on O’Keefe v State Farm

In the latest filing in O’Keefe v State Farm, a Response in Opposition to State Farm’s motion for a protective order, O’Keefe once again comes back with a punch – giving cause for considering the case the Timex of Katrina litigation and what, if any, relationship there is between Daniel and Jerry:

Quite simply, State Farm, while acknowledging the Plaintiffs’ right to discover claims procedures, coverage interpretation documents and similar information in the prosecution of their claims for bad faith and fraudulent claims practices, wants to make sure that any evidence  proving Plaintiffs’ allegations of institutional fraud is not made available to the public…

The “Protective Order” proposed by State Farm is, on its face, overly broad. It seeks to make all documents and information produced by State Farm, or any of its agents or  representatives, “confidential”… Continue reading “O’Keefe the Timex of Katrina litigation – update on O’Keefe v State Farm”

SLABBED Daily – May 26

With lies you may go ahead in the world, but you can never go back.

Writing from the beach at Destin looking ahead to the water in amazement that neither this house nor any other is elevated – and remembering the elevation required on the Mississippi coast is the highest in the nation.

I can’t help but wonder what impact the various acts of fraud described in last week’s hearing on the Rigsby qui tam case had on rebuilding requirements – but I suspect a lot, perhaps as much as they had on Gene Taylor’s legislation.

Before I started writing this morning, I read Brian Martin’s comment identifying specific examples of fraud in State Farm’s handling of NFIP claims following Katrina and his conclusion:

The instructions are the fraud.

Brian made the point of fraudulent instruction much better than I did in my written-in-haste comment about the fraudulent instruction of adjusters on the significance of a waterline.  Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – May 26”

…a little more on the Rigsby qui tam hearing and next steps

Somewhere between the qui and the tam, I missed the Sun Herald story ran that explained the earlier than expected end to the hearing on Friday and provided more detail on the follow-up briefs each party is to file.

Only one witness, Dr. Ralph Sinno, testified on Friday after the two parties agreed for Lecky King’s deposition to stand as evidence.

Responding to one question in her deposition, King said, “There was obvious wind blowing long before the first big waves hit, but that wind was not strong enough to knock those houses down, in my opinion.”

…Ralph Sinno disputed King’s opinion in testimony Friday. Sinno, a professor of civil engineering at Mississippi State University Continue reading “…a little more on the Rigsby qui tam hearing and next steps”

SLABBED Daily – May 23-24 (weekend qui tam edition)

After spending a day off-line, I’m back with a weekend SLABBED Daily update on the Rigsby qui tam.

The hearing before Judge Senter ended during the day yesterday and continues on paper, according to the Minute Entry on the Docket.

Minute Entry for proceedings held before District Judge L. T. Senter, Jr: Motion Hearing Minute Entry for proceedings held before District Judge L. T. Senter, Jr: Motion Hearing held on 5/22/2009. Court Hearing adjourned with agreed upon stipulation of  BRIEFING SCHEDULE for all parties as follows: Defendants have 10 working days to submit Brief to Court; Plaintiffs have 10 working days after receipt, to submit their Brief to Court; Defendants then allowed 5 days for Rebuttal. Court has reserved ruling as to admissibility of designated Exhibits, after which time, all exhibits will be filed in the Clerk of Court’s Office.

Also on the docket was a  Judicial Notice – filed by the Rigsby sisters: Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – May 23-24 (weekend qui tam edition)”