My partner Nowdy is our resident law blogger and she has done a bang up job covering the insurance litigation here on Slabbed but a few evenings ago she sent me some documents from the Branch false claims act case that made my jaw drop. Operating under the assumption that a picture is worth a thousand words as Nowdy illustrated in her post Branch Consultants file Rock(well) solid opposition to Protective Order – explain why Walker’s Order won’t protect State Farm’s a$$ in Rigsby qui tam, I’ve embedded Exhibit 2 from the Branch reply on Motion to Compel Exhibit 2, Docket #238. The documented wind damage to the house at 7441 Fieldstone Road in New Orleans begins on page 3:
[scribd id=27241471 key=key-p6y6z8tgm0dpla6to48]
So folks if we can all agree on the obvious wind damage and before I get to the portion of the pleading which is the topic of this post we need to visit with the former Liberty Mutual employee who now goes by the nom de guerre Mr Liberty Mutual:
A few months back, I saw a vision of the future of this company. It did not look good. As a matter of fact it is a downright scary vision of a future where the company’s reputation, built up over many, many years and supported by hard working, dedicated and extremely knowledgeable employees, is replaced with a company of underpaid, under-experienced, overworked employees who have to juggle more and more work. The passion to help a policyholder in their time of need will be replaced with metrics, benchmarks and greed. The customer service will suffer, less and less will get paid out and the only asset the company has, it’s reputation, will be trashed over and over again, all over the internet.
RIP Liberty Mutual. You were once a great company but your leaders of tomorrow were all laid off yesterday. Your current leaders have no vision beyond lean six sigma and your true leaders all walked out to greener pastures. As a leader who saw this coming, I had to leave.
Next up is an excerpt from the upcoming book Delay Deny and Defend where Professor Feinman explores the legal reputation of this once proud company turned socially deviant corporate predator:
Forcing litigation brings the game to the insurance companies’ home court; for a policyholder, bringing a lawsuit is likely to be a unique and trying (no pun intended) event, but an insurance company, as Liberty Mutual once acknowledged , is “a professional defender of lawsuits.” (*It should know; Chief Judge Edward Nottingham of the federal district court in Colorado described Liberty Mutual as “a major league team” in the game of “hardball litigation”)
Hardball indeed. So how did Liberty Mutual react when one of its insureds in New Orleans, the one with the obvious wind damage highlighted above, filed a wind claim with them after Katrina? They had the policyholder arrested for insurance fraud! This from Branch Consultants, LLC’S reply in support of its motion to compel:
Liberty Mutual argues that it could not have been engaged in a fraudulent scheme to shift wind losses to flood claims because the insured in ¶ 2 (a) of the FAC was arrested for insurance fraud. Although the charges against the insured were dismissed for lack of evidence, the details behind the insured’s arrest demonstrate a sharp contrast between, on the one hand, how Liberty Mutual carefully protected its own interests on the wind claim and, on the other, how it was all too willing to pay on the flood claim, and pay quickly without question. Liberty Mutual aggressively avoided making any payments on the homeowner policy by directing its employees that no payments were to be made on the claim under the homeowners policy, and referred the matter to law enforcement, who arrested the insured on suspected insurance fraud. Only days later, Liberty Mutual paid the insured’s flood claim for policy limits. It does not appear that Liberty Mutual conducted further investigation of whether the insured’s flood claim was legitimate or disclosed to FEMA its suspicions of fraudulent behavior by the homeowner. In sum, Liberty Mutual had the insured arrested for insurance fraud on the wind policy, yet it paid policy limits on the flood policy. This despite the fact of clear, undisputed evidence of wind damage at this property, which Liberty Mutual identified in its claims files (See Ex. 3 to LM Opp. at Branch-LM 0035) and which is apparent from Branch’s photographs of this property, attached as Exhibit 2.
Folks Nowdy and I have seen a lot here in Katrina land and frankly, after reading in Professor Feinman’s book how Progressive used PIs posing as a married couple to infiltrate the Southside Christian Fellowship and attend support sessions digging dirt on one of its claimants (just under Flo’s smiling exterior lies the black heart of an evil bitch) I thought I had seen the worst of what a socially deviant insurer could do to people but that was before Branch’s legal team introduced us to Liberty Mutual.
I well remember those days immediately after the storm. The local first responders were literally stretched to the limit doing their jobs including the grizzly tasks of recovering the dead. Considering over a third of the NOPD deserted after the storm and others are now under investigation for senseless killings in the aftermath it really took a special kind of malicious ass to run the authorities on fools errands indulging their private vendettas in this case just to avoid paying a legitimate claim. As is typical with an insurer I’m certain there was no blowback for having an innocent policyholder arrested. The only thing I can add is there is a special place in hell for people who do such things. I’ve never felt so strongly or negatively about an insurer until I discovered the miscreants that run claims at Liberty Mutual. Something tells me should Professor Feinman writes a sequel to his upcoming book one of the stories will be about Liberty Mutual’s behavior here after Katrina.