Keeping Score #5 – Who is telling the story?

We’ve don’t engage much in self puffery here at Slabbed, Nowdy and I always figured the cream would rise to the top on its own when it came to our core topics of insurance in general and the insurance litigation in particular. And while those with responsibility and culpability would love to be able to dismiss us they find it impossible to ignore us. A colleague of mine that works for the NSA has a favorite saying that goes “Facts are your friend” and indeed they have been very friendly to us. In fact the facts are what sustain us, especially in the face systemic denial and engrained cognitive biases we’ve found prevalent among insurance professionals not on the claims side of the equation. It has not been lost on us the cyber chatter has quieted a good bit since Nationwide’s lawyer beclowned himself before Justice Pierce at the Mississippi Supreme Court with his now famous “5% oral argument” in Corban. But that doesn’t mean this topic isn’t being discussed, it’s just that it is being discussed now on a more national stage.

So Who is Telling the Story?

Amy Bach at United Policyholders is telling the slab story as we’re linked in their Katrina library. United Policyholders is a national organization of consumers that was founded in the aftermath of extraordinary insurer bad faith claims handling after the two major 1990s California earthquakes and various wildfires. A self help group, Amy does great work but unfortunately ran into a road block trying to help coastie Kevin Buckel obtains claims data from our industry friendly Insurance Commish.

Who is Telling the Story?

Policyholder attorney Chip Merlin is telling our story most recently today on his blog as he helps make certain Magistrate Judges cyber famous or infamous as the case may be:

Discovery in Mississippi Katrina litigation has proven difficult. There is little downside for an insurer to refuse to turn over information and either objecting for a myriad of reasons or requesting a Protective Order which prevents policyholder attorneys from checking the veracity of the discovery the insurer did turn over. Early in litigation, State Farm would answer the same requests with different responses and far different documents. This did not last long. Now, State Farm objects to disclosure of internal information regarding the claims decisions impacting Mississippi claims. This evidence is crucial to reveal the true story of what, why and how the insurer created its wind/water protocol.

Slabbed reported on this recurrent issue recently in Keeping score #3 – Who has the balls?. The post quoted Mississppi attorney Judy Guice’s brief argument that a federal magistrate was not following longstanding discovery precedent. Her rhetoric shows that she has the guts to pointedly stand up to a federal judge…..

I feel for Judy Guice because we have experienced the same frustration. Possibly, this type of pointed argument will be more successful. For a non-lawyer social media web site, Slabbed has done an excellent job portraying the emotional frustrations advocates and policyholders are living through in the Katrina litigation. I will reenergize my efforts in our remaining cases and become more active in coordinating efforts among policyholder attorneys along the Mississippi Gulf Coast to do my best to ensure that those lingering matters also achieve justice and consideration……….

……I have no hesitation in suggesting that many can learn a great deal from the posts. The ideas are exceedingly original. I am certain that those in the insurance industry dislike Slabbed because it does have a tendency to demonize the industry and those supporting their status quo. Imagine if all your best friends, neighbors, and family had to endure financial ruin caused by insurance not paying following a devastating catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina. I imagine your rhetoric towards insurers and their agents would not be very complimentory either.

An excellent and fair assessment in my book. However, when the discussion centers on facts instead of cheap rhetoric we can be down right engaging. (I am a big fan of Supadres. Dang!)

Who is Telling the Story?

Radio Hosts Jim Brown on his blog and via radio hat tips and Earl Carr hosting us on his show on the Big 870. In this area we’re only just beginning.

Who is Telling the Story?

Blogs across this country from our very good friend Editilla to international publications like UK Daily Telegraph’s US Editor Toby Harnden’s blog. We were especially honored to be mentioned on State Senator David Baria’s blog in connection with our Corban coverage.

Who is Telling the Story?

We are, on finance message boards like Allstate’s Yahoo board where monied decision makers that can’t afford the luxury of denial in their decision making processes read and carefully consider the information we post. For our part we’ve learned that not everyone in the insurance business is pleased with the claims process becoming a profit center or the direction these companies have taken in their reinsurance programs that were stuffed full of toxic paper. We’ve also been privileged to meet other like minded people like Mr CLS whose insights have proven invaluable to us.

Who is Telling the Story?

Our readers, who share their successes and failures with us both on and offblog. Our Congressman, a man usually described in the press as a maverick but whom in reality is simply his own man, Gene Taylor. Gene and his dedicated staff make certain the voices of the Slabbed are heard in Congress.

Finally Chip is right, writing this blog takes alot of time and sacrifice as the time we spend authoring posts takes time away from our other hobbies and respective families. We don’t take advertising but still incur costs like the king size PACER bill from last quarter. Bellesouth was instrumental in both introducing Nowdy to the workings of PACER and allowing Slabbed to use her account for 5 or so quarters. Belle, like so many others too numerous to mention have been quiet heroes (or heroines as the case may be) to the people of the coast.

I don’t know how long we’ll be doing this but we’ll try our level best to be here until the last policyholder crosses the finish line.


5 thoughts on “Keeping Score #5 – Who is telling the story?”

  1. To the owners of ‘slabbed”: Thank you and congratulations. BUT: The attempted bribe of Judge Lackey, the deLaughter indictment, the guilty pleas, etc., all say that the Mississippi Court and Judicial System(s) have been “for sale” for many years. Many of the events since 8/29/05, in both civil and criminal cases, strongly indicate that “the fix is in” in many cases pending in Federal Court, as well. Do any of “slabbed’s” readers really believe that Magistrate Walker’s discovery orders in insurance cases were “accidental’? Or that the decisions which let the Port and Crowley “off the hook” for the havoc wreaked by errant barges and containers during KATRINA simply applied the law to the facts, to borrow a line from Sotomayor. WAKE UP MISSISSIPPI. WHERE IS THE GODDAMNED FBI?

  2. As I think about your ideas and where you come from with those, I actually understand how many of my clients feel.

    I understand that “the law” is different in the sense that it has to be fair to interests of those not in favor with the majority. Please understand that I would much rather have judges stand up to you, then to give into our local and time sensitive interests. This is much more in our interest than rule by the local majority with short term concerns.

    Still, there needs to be an accountability for making present judgments with the responsibility for explaining reasons so even those opposing the views can honestly appreciate the logic for the rule. As an attorney in the treches with human clients, I have to somehow communicate what the reasons for rulings may be and why they are. God help us if I cannot explain that the only reason for a logical reason is that the judge was appointed by a politician with a result oriented bias which has to be followed rather than fair logic and justice.

  3. OK

    You guys win. We, the dumb lawyers. lose.

    After reading your link, “Never Assume Anything About Insurance,” what else is there to say?


  4. I understand what you’re saying Chip. In fact it’s the reason I try to link a Federal Rule mentioned in a brief to the corresponding Rule on the Cornell web site.

    Litigation seems like a dance (Maybe if I think of Judge Walker as Arthur Murray I’ll understand better)

  5. Chip hit it square on the nose.

    Over the past four years I have had to explain rulings t clients that I not only disagree with, but cannot for the life of me figure out how the judge(s) arrived at their conclusions. Decisions completely void of any analysis of La. law that were basically made up out of “whole cloth.”

    For anybody interested, please read Judge Berrigan’s deicision in Ferguson v. Allstate in which she as a federal/Eerie court made up the law out of thin air. It is undisputedly the worst most unfounded opinion I have ever seen.

    if the federal courts had just followed and applied the law, a lot more cases would have gone to trial and homeowners would have been vindicated. Nonetheless, with the district courts past the point of caring the 5th Circuit looking for any reason to arbitrarily harm plaintiffs, advising clients is not easy.

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