Keeping score #6 – Plaintiffs leading 2-0 on Protective Orders until Walker called Spragins safe on a foul!

Oh the games people play now
Every night and every day now

First, the line up. Pitchers are on rotation – O’Keefe, Harris, and Jordan. Webb Sanders was at bat for State Farm in O’Keefe and Scot Spragins the designated hitter for the team in Harris and Jordan. Making the calls were Magistrates Parker, Alexander, and Walker.

Oh the games people play now
Every night and every day now

Now for the play-by-play in this game of Protective Orders.

Stepping to the plate for Webb, Paige Bush tipped a Motion for Protective Order in O’Keefe straight to Christopher Van Cleve who caught two significant changes from previously agreed to Orders.

Magistrate Judge Alexander, called the out with this Order for the Ozerden court:

Defendant State Farm requests the Court to enter a Protective Order in this cause… Plaintiffs contend that Defendant State Farm’s proposed Order is overly broad on its face because it seeks to make all documents and information produced by State Farm, or any of its agents or representatives, “confidential.”

For the reasons set forth in the pleadings, the Court finds that Defendant State Farm’s proposed Protective Order is overly broad and shall not be entered. However, the Court finds Defendant has established good cause for entry of an Order. Defendant’s Motion for Protective Order is hereby GRANTED only to the extent that Plaintiffs’ alternative proposed Protective Order shall be entered.

Spragins took a swing at Harris in State Farm’s Motion for Protective Order.

Van Cleve caught that one, too and Magistrate Judge Parker called the second  “out” in his Order – and the game  was 2 and 0 for the plaintiffs.

…State Farm’s revised proposed protective order is essentially the same as proposed by plaintiffs.

Spragins was popping Motions and one hit Jordan, the Santa Cruz firm tagged him but Judge Walker called him safe with this Order and Plaintiffs were down one.

Language Proposed by State Farm (O’Keefe, Harris, and Jordan) and Ordered ONLY by Walker (Jordan v State Farm re: item #11 in Walker’s Order):

Within sixty (60) days after conclusion of all aspects of  this litigation, all documents containing confidential information and all copies of same (other than exhibits of record) shall be returned to the designating entity along with executed copies of Exhibit “A.” (Defendant State Farm’s proposed Consent Order (Exhibit A) for Jordan , Harris , and O’Keefe )

Language in  Previous Protective Orders entered by the District Court (Southern District Mississippi) Provided by Plaintiffs and ORDERED by Alexander (O’Keefe) and Parker (Harris) (re: item 10 in Orders issued by Alexander and Parker):

Within sixty (60) days after the conclusion of all aspects of litigation against State Farm Fire and Casualty Company in which Counsel for Plaintiffs are Counsel of Record involving claims arising from Hurricane Katrina, all documents containing confidential information and all copies of same (other than exhibits of record) shall be returned to the designating entity along  with executed copies of Exhibit “A”.  (Plaintiff’s example of previously ordered Protective Order provided the Court in O’Keefe and Harris as  Plaintiff’s alternative to State Farm Exhibit A here)

In other words, Judge Walker delivered State Farm’s version of the Protective Order word-for-word in his Order (Jordan v State Farm).

It is insufficient to suggest Walker might have decided differently if Jordan’s counsel had made specific objection to individual items instead of filing more generally stated Opposition to… State Farm’s broad and sweeping efforts to prevent public access to its claim handling procedures, which are not trade secrets

State Farm’s blanket assertion of confidentiality fails to meet the requirement of “good cause” for such an overly broad protective order, as set forth in Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure…Only upon a proper affirmative showing by State Farm that certain specific information is proprietary or trade secret should a protective order ensue.

In State Farm’s Rebuttal to Jordan’s Opposition, Spragins claimed:

The proposed Consent Protective Order is a duplicate of hundreds of such orders entered in prior and current Katrina cases, both by consent and over objection…

Spragins had made a similar claim in the Motion he filed for the Protive Order in Jordan and Harris – State Farm’s proposed Consent Protective Order has been routinely entered by this Court – a claim he allegedly supported with a lengthy list of case references::

By way of example, on February 29, 2008, this Court entered this same Consent Protective Order in the following matters:

  • Larry Abney v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co.,Cause No. 1:07cv710,
  • Dorothy Alford v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv814,
  • Dorothea Barker v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv816,
  • John and Elizabeth Bell, IV v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv716,
  • Emily Carr v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv826,
  • Edward and Wendy Cooley v . State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv726;

on March 3, 2008, this Court entered this Consent Protective Order in the following matters:

  • Susan Austin v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv713,
  • Bonnie and Greg Beckman v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv715,
  • Kearney and Denise Breland v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv719,
  • Jason and Debbie Crawford v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv727,
  • Telina Birch v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv817,
  • Ernestine Bradley v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv821,
  • Martha Bryant v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv823,
  • Linnia Carr v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv827,
  • Ricky and Martha Broadus v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv721,
  • Thomas and Thelma Cobb v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv725,
  • Larry Abney v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv711;

on March 5, 2008, this Court entered this Consent Protective Order in

  • David and Alma Burton v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv723;

on March 26, 2008, this Court entered this Consent Protective Order in

  • Jean Brown v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv822,
  • Harry and Joanna Burke v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv722,
  • Martha Bryant v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv824
  • Francis and Patrick Arnona v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv712;

on March 3, 2008, this Court entered this Consent Protective Order in the following matters:

  • Thomas and Susan Erhardt v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv734,
  • Cora Creighton v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv832,
  • Artie Doty v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv836,
  • Kim David v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv834,
  • Charles and Susan Freeman v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv738,
  • Royce and Anna Garrison v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv742
  • Richard and Merileight v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv740;

on April 1, 2008, this Court entered this Consent Protective Order in the following matters:

  • Vernon and Lela Doster v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv731,
  • Marisa Dalla Valle v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv833,
  • Eva Mae Fairley v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv837,
  • Jess and Debbie Davis, III v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv729,
  • Ben and Kathy Foster v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv737,
  • Lewis and Elizabeth Elford v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv733,
  • Debra and Dennis Finn v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No.1:07cv735
  • Jerry and Linda Garner v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv741;

on June 3, 2008, this Court entered this Consent Protective Order in the following matters:

  • Curtis Standfuss v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv793
  • David Lagasse v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Cause No. 1:07cv761.

Doing what the courts should have done, I began verifying Spragins claim by pulling five  cases and reviewing the Orders, working bottom up:

Standfuss s and Lagasse are NOT duplicates of the Protective Order identified by State Farm as Exhibit A (above).

However, in the other cases I randomly selected – Burke, Elford and Furr – the Orders were duplicates of State Farm’s Exhibit A as claimed although the date for one is inaccurate (Furr  1:07cv740  shown on the list with only first names “Richard” and “Merileigh”)

The Protective Orders issued in Standfuss and Lagasse have the duplicate language at item #10 as claimed by Plaintiff’s Counsel for OKeefe and Harris, Christopher Van Cleve, and documented in the Exhibits filed with the Plaintiff’s Opposition with copies of the Protective Order from Jones v State Farm, Marion v State Farm, and Grenn v State Farm. (quoted above as Language in Previous Protection Orders)

Obviously, there have been two slightly different versions of what Spragins called the Protective Order routinely entered by this Court.

Spragins own list of cases confirms that but the begging questions are why? and why claim otherwise in filing motions?

However, in addition to the cases Van Cleve provided as Exhibits in the O’Keefe and Harris Opposition, he was also Counsel for two cases Spragins listed as having the routinely entered Order State Farm proposed in  Harris and Jordan – Standruss v State Farm and Lagasse v State Farm.

Van Cleave caught the different wording and documented the more limiting language in the  Opposition filed for O’Keefe on the 26th of May:

The order proposed by State Farm in this case would stand in conflict with those numerous Orders previously entered by the United States District Court.

In that regard, the timeline on O”Keefe and Jordan filings is interesting:

  • May 26, 2009: Van Cleve files Opposition to Protective Order the Webb firm proposed for O’Keefe v State Farm.
  • June 16, 2009: Spragins files Motion for Protective Order in Jordan v State Farm with a duplicate of the version proprosed by the Webb firm as the proposed Order for Jordan.
  • July 2, 2009:  Judge Alexander issues Protective Order in O’Keefe v State Farm but orders use of the Plaintiff’s “less restrictive” version submitted by Van Cleve.
  • July 15, 2009:  Judge Walker issues Protective Order in Jordan v State Farm as proposed by Spragins.

One clue about the other routinely entered version of the Protective Order is that Burke, Elford, and Furr were last represented by Provost Umphrey –  Counsel for the RICO case filed by the Shows’ Plaintiffs.  Spragins represented State Farm in all three of these cases and the RICO case as well.

Say it ain’t so, Joe!

Ironically, it is Spragins’ Rebuttal to Jordan’s Opposition that provides the most compelling reason for plaintiff’s counsel to strenghten the opposition to Protective Orders shielding State Farm:

Paragraph 4 of the proposed Consent Protective Order clearly states that “confidential information” may be so designated on the face of the document. State Farm Fire has produced untold numbers of pages of documents in Katrina litigation marked “confidential,” and never had such designations challenged.

So, what have we here with two different versions of State Farm’s routinely entered Protective Order- a conspiracy to throw the game with misleading claims about what has been protected in the past?

Say it ain’t so, Joe.

Oh the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say now
Never saying what they mean

And they wile away the hours
In their ivory towers
Till they’re covered up with flowers
In the back of a black limousine



8 thoughts on “Keeping score #6 – Plaintiffs leading 2-0 on Protective Orders until Walker called Spragins safe on a foul!”

  1. Fantastic post Nowdy and kudos for the hours of research I know you put in exposing Spragins as less than truthful in his assertions and Walker for ruling without so much as checking basic facts.

    Both of these men are a menace to the bar and the concept of justice.

    sop

  2. I can not understand how Judge Walker can grant two differently worded Orders without comment – particularly since the relatively slight language difference has such a significant impact.

    His approval has been such a certainty that it’s almost a waste of time to object –

    or rather it was until Christopher Van Cleave got a different version than the one he’s received in the past.

    I hope Senter, Ozerden and the others want to know/will find out how how their court became a “magic jurisdiction” for State Farm.

  3. I agree w/Sop Nowdy…excellent post and I bet your shoulders and neck are killing you from penning these pain-stakingly true facts – your kindess in educating the public & others makes you the “peoples hero.”

    SHIRLEY HEFLIN

  4. She is my hero Shirley. One day maybe we’ll post the story of how I recruited her. Nowdy is a rare person indeed.

    I still give her hell from time to time though to keep her on her toes.

    These boot are made for walking……

    sop

  5. Thanks, Shirley, sounds as if you speak from experience. What makes me Sops’ “hero,” however, is that I type like a turtle – real slow – so my shoulders and neck are just the first to go when I have to dig for facts. It’s not so much a matter of him keeping me “on my toes” as it is that they’re the only things that don’t ache when I’m done with a post like this ( which gives a whole different meaning to “pain staking” research)

  6. I’ve come to the conclusion that slabbed has all of the Farm’s antics inventoried/archived better than any lawyer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *