Slabbed Daily July 15: Dead Fish Edition

What a better way to remind the public about Mr Chaney’s upcoming insurance forum than to feature a warmup article about the massive pogey spill in the Mississippi sound and its accompanying pool of floating dead fish. Al Jones at the Sun Herald has the story:

Nearly half a million dead pogies were adrift Tuesday off Long Beach and Pass Christian.

An accident involving two Omega Protein pogy boats, based out of Pascagoula, resulted in a spill that sent an estimated 200,000 dead pogies, or menhaden, per boat into the water.

“Accidents do happen,’’ said Walter “Tiny” Chataginer, chief of law enforcement for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. “We are not sure what happened and how they got dumped.’’

Next up we’ll circle back to JR Welsh’s story in the Sun Herald from last month on the restoration of Buccaneer State Park in Waveland. I saw the C-L picked it up for today’s edition as they are manpower poor and no doubt very hungry for content. These are very challenging economic times for poorly run newspaper chains such as the C-L’s corporate parent Gannett but that is another post:

One of the Coast’s most beloved but hurricane-battered attractions is getting a $17 million overhaul and may be partially rebuilt by late fall, but won’t be back to full steam until at least 2010. Continue reading “Slabbed Daily July 15: Dead Fish Edition”

Keeping score #3 – Who has the balls?

State Farm mischaracterizes as a “heavy burden” the standard of review applicable to this petition. As Plaintiff’s objections to the Magistrate’s order relate to matters of law, and not fact, Plaintiff must only prove that said rulings are “contrary to law.” See, Bulley v. Fidelity Financial Services of Mississippi, Inc., 2000 WL 1349184 at *2 (S.D. Miss. 2000) (given lack of factual infirmities that would render non-dispositive order clearly erroneous, the standard is whether same is contrary to law). The unnecessarily restrictive and inconsistent order of the Magistrate Judge well satisfies Plaintiff’s obligation to establish same are “contrary to law.”

Intended as a review of action in multiple cases, too many games are being played in Southern District Federal Court and Keeping Score #3 will now be posted as a series.  SLABBED begins the report asking…

Who has the balls?

For no good reason expressed, State Farm unilaterally rewrote Plaintiff’s discovery and produced only limited documents relating to claims…This arbitrary restriction was approved by the Magistrate Judge. Given that such discovery is not only allowed within the broad parameters of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure but more specifically by the same Magistrate’s own orders in similar cases, the restriction in this case is clearly “contrary to law.”

Who has the balls?

Acting in a manner clearly contrary to law, the United States Magistrate Judge has approved State Farm’s unprecedented, unsupported, and illegal concealment of discoverable facts. Continue reading “Keeping score #3 – Who has the balls?”

Evidence of criminal wrongdoing cannot be a trade secret – Rigsbys answer State Farm’s Counterclaim

Evidence of criminal wrongdoing – documents which are the utensils through which a crime is committed – cannot be a trade secret.

Sop’s excellent post on behavioral economics provides the contextual frame for the Rigsbys’ Answer to State Farm’s Amended Counterclaim seeking Summary Judgment for Retaliatory Discharge. From that perspective, we start with the Conclusion:

All Of State Farm’s Damage Flows From Its Own Criminal Conduct, Not Relators’ Actions.

  • Since at least September 3, 2005, State Farm Insurance, E. A. Renfroe & Company,and its other many co-conspirators have been engaged in a concerted effort to defraud the United States through its National Flood Insurance Program.
  • State Farm sent a “catastrophe team” to the Gulfcoast for the purpose of carrying out a complex scheme to reduce the amount of cash outlay that State Farm and its reinsurers would have to expend.
  • One mechanism selected for this purpose and process was a plan to push as much of  the coverage issues as possible off on the National Flood Insurance Program through the submission of false and fraudulent claims.  The chief facilitator of this plan was a State Farm employee by the name of Alexis King.
  • Any damages sustained by State Farm as a result of its own criminal and unlawful conduct flow from its own inequitable actions and are not the result of the Rigsbys’ reporting that criminal and unlawful conduct to federal and state authorities.
  • State Farm cannot pawn off on the Relators the costs relating to the defense of their own criminal conduct by claiming that the damages relate to the access of its computer systems.
  • Neither can State Farm make out a claim that a systematic plan to cheat the federal government, the roughly 173,000,000 United States taxpayers, and the Mississippi policy-holders out of billions of dollars is a “trade secret” as that term is commonly understood.

If the logical thinking of Counsel Continue reading “Evidence of criminal wrongdoing cannot be a trade secret – Rigsbys answer State Farm’s Counterclaim”

Have we seen the end of rational economics? Behavioral Economics explains the Scheme.

With the very recent publishing of yet another list of the worst bad faith insurers, this time by the American Association for Justice, the topic of why the public holds these companies in such low esteem again becomes topical.

We’ve well chronicled the dirty tricks and underhanded tactics these socially deviant companies employ to satisfy their relentless thirst for profit but that is not the thrust of this post. Rather, in keeping with today’s theme of “the why” as Nowdy linked my comment on the Yahoo Allstate message board in her Daily slab post I’m expanding on the concepts from that post and in the process explain one of the possible reasons why an insurer with a good reputation in Chubb will be inherently more profitable than one with a bad reputation in Allstate.

When I first met Nowdy and we began to get to know each other I told her my favorite hobby was investing and to that end, the fields of Game Theory and Behavioral Finance were of great interest to me along with their political first cousin Public Choice theory, the latter two economic disiplines being relative newcomers to our body of collective knowledge.

After 20 months of writing here at slabbed I finally get to indulge those passions and perhaps educate our readers on the mechanisms at work that resulted in what became known here on Slabbed as The Scheme, a series of posts by Nowdy that explained the bad behavior of the insurers here after Katrina. In short not only do we tell you who dunnit but also how it could happen in a large organization like State Farm, Nationwide, USAA, Allstate and others. We start with the July-August edition of the Harvard Business Review and Dan Ariely’s article The End of Rational Economics:

In 2008, a massive earthquake reduced the financial world to rubble. Standing in the smoke and ash, Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve once hailed as “the greatest banker who ever lived,” confessed to Congress that he was “shocked” that the markets did not operate according to his lifelong expectations. He had “made a mistake in presuming that the self-interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, was such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders.” Continue reading “Have we seen the end of rational economics? Behavioral Economics explains the Scheme.”