State Farm’s Protective Orders are Dispositive Motions in disguise – more games scheduled for the qui tam Olympics

Companies will soon learn that the best protection and defense against a potentially serious and morale lessening whistleblower suit is to have in place a corporate culture that emphasizes ethical conduct by all involved in the company.

In contrast to the opinion expressed in a lecture at the Brookings Institute, the dockets of Katrina litigation provide ample evidence that the corporate culture of State Farm is one that, instead, views a protective order as the Company’s best protection and defense.  At SLABBED we call the tactic gutting a case to settlement.  However, by any name,  the process begins with a protective order that consistently ends up disposing of so much evidence it effectively disposes of most plaintiffs’ Constitutional right to a jury trial and, in turn, either disposes of the case itself or forces settlement,.

SLABBED has published numerous posts documenting how the routine protective orders granted State Farm have repeatedly been used to shield damaging evidence of State Farm’s claims handling following Katrina. One such post quoted a plaintiff’s attorney who wrote:

It is black-letter law that a litigant who might be embarrassed, incriminated, or exposed to litigation through dissemination of materials is not, without more, entitled to the Court’s protection. Stated otherwise, those types of harm do not constitute “good cause” for entry of a protective order under the Rules…

State Farm has not right to an automatic protection from the public being granted access to evidence of its misconduct in the arena of responding to Hurricane Katrina claims in Mississippi.

Discovery in a qui tam case, more than any other, should be transparent for the Relators stand in the place of the USA which in turn represents the public interest.  We the people, therefore, have a concomitant right to know.  Nonetheless, as SLABBED recently reported in Qui Tam Olympics – the protection game: ex rel Rigsby v State Farm, State Farm filed for a Protective Order seeking to limit the Rigsbys’ discovery. Counsel for the Rigsbys has now filed the Relators’ Response in Opposition :

State Farm asserts that the contested discovery requests “do not pertain to the McIntosh flood claim and amount to mere speculation by the Rigsbys of the type that has been condemned by this Court.” State Farm’s Motion at 6. In fact, the Relators have tailored carefully their discovery requests based on this Court’s August 10, 2009 Order…and  this Court’s related rulings in individual policyholder cases. Accordingly, all of the discovery sought by the Relators seeks information that may lead to admissible evidence regarding whether the Defendants submitted a false claim with respect the McIntosh flood claim. Continue reading “State Farm’s Protective Orders are Dispositive Motions in disguise – more games scheduled for the qui tam Olympics”

Jim Brown on the Supreme Court and Campaign Ca$h

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Baton Rouge, Louisiana



Last week’s Supreme Court decision declaring that corporations and unions can spend money on political advertising has unleashed a storm of controversy on both sides of the political spectrum. And some press reports predict that Louisiana will become “the wild, wild west” for political fundraising with candidates no longer in control of their own campaigns. Louisiana corporate boardrooms will become political cockpits for plotting the success or demise of those on the ballot. So the question is-are Louisiana politicians now subject to be for sale to the highest bidder?

It’s no secret that, in the majority of elections, there are two key elements in getting elected to a major political office in Louisiana. The first is money. I’ve forgotten what the second element is. In highly contested statewide races, Louisiana often is the most expensive state, per capita, in the nation. And right now in state races, contrary to the laws governing the three federal races (President, US Senator and Congressman), corporations are legally allowed to make campaign contributions in Louisiana. Such businesses are subject to the same limitations as individuals which is five thousand dollars for a statewide office. The court decision does not give carte blanche for companies to give more than the present legal limit. Continue reading “Jim Brown on the Supreme Court and Campaign Ca$h”

Is there an auditor in the house? “There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.” A Jefferson Parish political corruption scandal update.

Actually there is an auditor in the house and we have a report that illustrates why governments should have strong internal and external audit functions. Lets start with Jefferson Parish’s unfolding political corruption scandal as the Times Picayune’s Mark Walter reveals that Aaron Broussard showed the parish’s internal audit staff the door not long after he took office:

A month after former chief administrator Tim Whitmer created the insurance agency that would later torpedo his career in parish government along with that of former Parish President Aaron Broussard, the parish in November 2005 eliminated the position of internal auditor, an official whose duties include monitoring the parish’s financial workings and contracting practices.

Interim Parish President Steve Theriot revealed this week that he learned the Broussard administration had abandoned the job. The revelation surprised some members of the Jefferson Parish Council, although Council Chairman John Young said he remembers the move as a cost-saving measure in the uncertain days after Hurricane Katrina.

Is this Young guy a clown or what in his day job? At best this was an ignorant, penny wise pound foolish mistake but we’ll let the self serving jackasses that make up the Parish Council serve up a couple more whoppers hoping that a gullible public buys into BS in order to drive home the point. Continue reading “Is there an auditor in the house? “There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.” A Jefferson Parish political corruption scandal update.”