Let’s talk – the Maurstad directive on post-Katrina Expedited Claim Handling UPDATED

Can you post Senter’s Order from August 10? Order 344. I’d like to see the “criteria”.

In my hurried response to this request from SLABBED reader James Barbieri, I provided the link to Judge Senter’s Memorandum Opinion.  However, both the Order and Opinion contain the criteria Judge Senter established for the list of claims he has ordered State Farm to deliver for his in camera review:

  • The insured property did not fall within any of the three categories of storm damage for which FEMA approved payment of SFIP limits, i.e. insured dwellings that were not left as slabs, pilings, or empty shells; and
  • For which SFIP limits were paid on the grounds the property was a constructive total loss; and
  • For which no “stick built” or Exactimate estimation of the flood damage was made before the SFIP limits were paid.

Mr. Barbieri also requested the Attachments to Maurstad’s letter, which I’ve linked here as Memo and attachments Expedited Claim Handling Process – and added:

I’m also very interested in starting a discussion on the Maurstad letter. Continue reading “Let’s talk – the Maurstad directive on post-Katrina Expedited Claim Handling UPDATED”

State Farm puts the Court to the test in Bossier – files nine motions in limine UPDATED

Defendants mistakenly believe that just because evidence is prejudicial it is not admissible. Not so. All relevant evidence is necessarily prejudicial.

Are we going to see yet another case gutted before trial? Obviously,  State Farm would like nothing better.  The Company filed nine motions in limine on the last day of September with trial set for little more than a month away.

Taken in the order of just how offensive the motions are to the public interest, SLABBED examines the nine starting with #7: to Preclude Testimony or Evidence Relating to Interpretation of Insurance Policy Provisions or Principles of Mississippi Law and to Exclude the Wind Water Claim Handing Protocol.

State Farm anticipates that Plaintiff may attempt to introduce testimony and/or evidence regarding a State Farm document known as the Wind Water Claim Handling Protocol… That document, however, should not be used for any purpose during the trial of Plaintiff’s claims. First, the document should not be used during the coverage phase of trial because how an adjuster investigates a claim has no bearing on what damage wind or flood caused to Plaintiff’s property or on whether those damages qualify for coverage under the plain terms of the homeowners policy.

Second, the document is also inadmissible during the later phase of trial (if any) involving claims for extra-contractual and punitive damages because (1) introducing the protocol would inject unfair prejudice against State Farm and needlessly confuse the jury by introducing a purported investigatory process alongside the controlling Mississippi investigatory standard beyond the abilityof any instruction by the Court to cure and (2) the document does not evidence bad faith or other culpable conduct. (Emphasis added – and doubled)

The following excerpt from the November 1, 2006 deposition of Stephan Hinkle, principal developer of the Protocol, provides just one of the many reasons the Court should carefully consider this motion. Continue reading “State Farm puts the Court to the test in Bossier – files nine motions in limine UPDATED”

SLABBED Daily – October 1

The big slab of the day comes from President Obama who apparently can’t tell a federal flood from a hurricane.  Geoff Pender reports for the Sun Herald.

The White House on Wednesday indicated that President Barack Obama’s trip to the “hurricane damaged Gulf Coast” will not include Mississippi, nor, apparently, the Gulf Coast.

“The President will travel to New Orleans,” a White House spokesman said in a written response to the Sun Herald’s question of whether he would travel to Mississippi in his first trip to the region after being elected. Obama had promised to visit the Katrina damaged region by the end of his first year in office.

So the change we need is…a map.  Quick, someone get the President a map!

It appears State Farm has a similar problem.  Deborah Trotter’s response in opposition to State Farm’s motion to compel New Light Baptist Church to supplement discover tells that story: Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – October 1”

Jim Brown on the Louisiana Reapportionment Scandal: No more secret backroom deals

Thursday, October 1, 2009
Shreveport, Louisiana


It’s getting close to redistricting time for legislators, and already criticism is raining down on this politically sensitive process that decisions are being shaped behind closed doors.  Lawmakers have scheduled a two day “educational workshop” in Alexandria next month to learn the process of divvying up the various political boundaries including congressional, public service commission, and their own legislative districts. But the sessions are not open to the public.  “Wrong!” cry the press and the good government groups.  But the question should be, why are they meeting at all?

By federal law, all election districts must be reapportioned every 10 years to reflect the latest census figures. This puts Louisiana elections officials in a bind knowing that census figures won’t be available until 2011, the same year as the Louisiana gubernatorial election.  So a process does need to be in place so that quick action can be taken once the new census figures are available.  But should legislators, who have a vested interest in how the redistricting lines are drawn, actually do the drawing?

The problem is one of gerrymandering, where district lines are not drawn to reflect geographical or political balance, but to favor the incumbent or some other partisan choice.  When legislators do the redistricting, the norm seems to be that the state ends up with meandering footprints meticulously designed, it would seem,  to ensure that no incumbent will face serious opposition regardless of how the political winds are blowing.  John Maginnis’ weekly column summed the problem up well this week when he concluded:  “Think about it this way.  In elections, people choose their legislators.  In reapportionment, legislators choose their people.”

Gerrymandering, by the way, means to manipulate the electoral boundaries for political gain so as to give undue influence to an incumbent or other favored candidate. The name comes from Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry, who in 1812 created winding districts to favor incumbents that looked like salamanders, thus the convoluted word of gerrymandering. Continue reading “Jim Brown on the Louisiana Reapportionment Scandal: No more secret backroom deals”