Judge Starrett on State Farm Fire and State Farm Mutual – a distinction without a difference

Amazing, is it not, that Judge Walker could find no reason to lawfully deny Burger’s motion to file an amended complaint; yet, Judge Ozerden had no problem finding a reason to deny O’Keefe’s:

State Farm Fire maintains that there is a suggestion of bad faith in Plaintiffs’ attempt to add State Farm Mutual, and that allowing Plaintiffs to amend their Complaint to add this Defendant would result in undue delay and would be futile…The Fifth Circuit has interpreted “futility” in the amended pleading context to mean that an amended complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted…

Clearly Judge Ozerden sees a distinction between State Farm Fire and State Farm Mutual. However, his collegue Judge Starrett has declared it a distinction without a difference:

General Hood made some effort to distinguish State Farm Mutual Automobile Company, a mutual insurance company, from State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, a stock insurance company.  The Court believes this to be a distinction without a difference, since all of the stock in the stock company is in fact owned by the mutual company.

Judge Starrett’s opinion on the relationship between State Farm Mutual and State Farm Fire is found in his Order of recusal, entered in State Farm v  Hood (October 10, 2007).

Hood’s position is understandable with a look at the settlement agreement at issue in the injunction State Farm obtained in Starrett’s court prior to his recusal.

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Note the Settlement Agreement is specific to Hood’s case against defendant  State Farm Fire! Continue reading “Judge Starrett on State Farm Fire and State Farm Mutual – a distinction without a difference”

The Press Register Picks up Coverage of Ex Rel Branch: Slabbed gets a link

Kudos and props to Nowdy as all that time and hard work she put in reorganizing our legal pages has been recognized in the media.  Jeff Amy has the story for the Mobile Press Register:

Pilot Catastrophe Services Inc. has been dismissed from a federal lawsuit in New Orleans that claims insurers overbilled the National Flood Insurance Program for flood damage so they could pay policyholders less for wind damage from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

The Monday ruling allowed the whistleblower suit by Branch Consultants, a group of former insurance adjusters, to go forward after two years of wrangling. But it severed Pilot and two other adjusting firms — NCA Group and Crawford & Co. — from the case.

State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. and Allstate Corp. were removed earlier. Left as defendants are Travelers unit Standard Fire Insurance Co., Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., American National Property & Casualty Co., Fidelity National Property and Casualty Insurance Co., American Reliable Insurance Co., Colonial Claims Corp. and Simsol Insurance Services Inc.

Insurers say there’s no merit to claims that they pumped up flood damage and reduced estimates for wind damage to increase their profits. A similar suit is pending in Mississippi.

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