so I may know the outer limits of the potential claims involved in this
action, I will require State Farm to submit, in camera, a list containing the name of the insured, the address of the property, and the amount of flood insurance paid, for all SFIP claims that meet the following criteria…
Let’s just cut to the chase here and consider whether the list of State Farm policyholder claims the Company was Ordered to provide Judge Senter was worth the paper it was written on.
Lizana’s response to State Farm (Lizana v State Farm) gives cause for concern about the integrity of the claims file produced in discovery for any given case and even more about the integrity of the list of claims meeting Judge Senter’s criteria.
On or about February 6, 2009, Plaintiffs served discovery requests to Defendant, which contained numerous requests for information regarding Defendant’s first party property claims handling procedures, the investigation and handling of Plaintiffs’ claims, and Defendant’s data storage systems, retention policies and procedures, and communication transmittals, among other requests seeking relevant information and data.
Fast forward to November 2009.
The entire claim file for Plaintiffs’ claim is a crucial piece of evidence in this bad
faith case. The entire claim file would include all claim files, including electronic claim files kept in the various databases. Defendant has only produced portions of the Claim Service Record (CSR) for the Homeowner’s file and the Flood file, the Underwriting, and in some cases the Regional file from Birmingham. However, there are several other databases containing files that may have differing information, which would require production of all to make up the whole or entire claim file, which would allow the Plaintiffs to properly prepare their case.
It’s no surprise the eagle-eye counsel for the Lizana plaintiffs is Coast attorney Deborah Trotter who (true to form) spotted the devil in the details:
Plaintiffs have taken the deposition of Pilot Catastrophe adjuster, Curtis Hilgersom, who testified that he had a laptop and digital camera issued to him with an ID No. by State Farm. After he finished his inspections he returned the laptop, digital camera and all paper files to State Farm.
The Plaintiffs’ Claim file, printed from the CSR database and furnished by State Farm in response to Plaintiffs’ Requests for Production is incomplete and contained unexplained changes and documentation. Mr. Hilgersom could not determine if he took the photographs produced by State Farm from two separate site visits, even after he determined that he only made one site visit. Had these photographs been produced in native electronic format as requested by Plaintiffs, the metadata would have disclosed this relevant information.
Counsel for State Farm offered to provide a 30(b)(6) deponent for further inquiry into how the electronic claim file was utilized and changes documented. (The deposition transcript is not yet received from the Court Reporter—Exhibit E, Deposition Excerpts of Hilgersom, will be supplemented.)
Trotter is also plaintiff’s counsel in two other cases SLABBED is following – Lebon v State Farm and New Light Baptist Church v State Farm. In each of the three cases, Trotter has filed a similar claim-specific subpoena duces tecum to take the deposition of an IT 30(b)(6) representative. As Trotter moves each case forward, the devil in one case pops up in the details of another, for example:
Emails produced in Marion S. Lebon and Lisa Cowand v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company have come from the State Farm department regarding mediation. These emails request movement of the Lebon electronic file from one database to another. (Exh. F, Emails produced in Marion S. Lebon and Lisa Cowand v. SFFCC).
A review and comparison of documents produced in Lebon v SFFCC, and represented as the Plaintiffs’ “underwriting file” and documents produced by State Farm in New Light Baptist Church (NLBC) v State Farm Fire & Casualty Company and represented as NLBC’s “underwriting file” show printed reports from the PDQ database in the format of screen shots in one production and not the other. (Exh. G, PDQ Reports in NLBC v SFFCC.)
Speaking of the devil, defendant State Farm is vigorously opposing Trotter’s effort. The company has filed motions for protective orders as well as motions to quash. In a Louisiana case, State Farm pulled out all stops – and a heavy purse – to settle a case that had an IT deposition scheduled the next day.
Judge Senter best sleep with one eye open – else the devil hiding details of the claims on his list may be buried by the time he starts looking for details.