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”