Compel the cat from the bag of Haag’s “pig in a poke” report – a Rigsby qui tam update

A common scheme “in the Late Middle Ages, when meat was scarce but cats were not…entailed the sale of a suckling pig in a poke” but “the wriggling bag would actually contain a cat”.  A common scheme after Hurricane Katrina was word games like the Haag Report – State Farm’s “cat storm” in a bag that Haag wants us to believe was sold as a “pig in a poke”.

SLABBED isn’t buying the claim that State Farm bought “a pig in a poke” report and neither are the Rigsbys – Relators’ Expedited Motion to Compel Haag Engineering Co. to Produce Documents and Answer Interrogatories Prior to the Depositions of Tim Marshall and Paul O’Connor

Haag’s bright line objection to all discovery requests that relate in any way to events that occurred after October 4, 2005 is improper and the Relators are entitled to the Contested Discovery prior to the depositions of the Haag employees. Accordingly, for the reasons set forth below, the Relators respectfully request that the Court order Haag to produce responsive documents and answer the contested interrogatories at least seven days prior to the depositions at issue. Because Haag has noticed the depositions for April 5-6, the Relators request that the Court order Haag to produce responsive documents by March 29, 2010. However, if that time frame is not reasonable and convenient, Relators request that the Court either (1) require Haag to reschedule the depositions for at least one week after Haag produces the contested documents and answers the contested interrogatories; or (2) allow the Relators to depose the witnesses again after Relators receive the discovery information at issue.

Judge Walkers “bright light” Order , however, was issued on April Fool’s Day and responds to neither request but largely grants the Relators’ motion otherwise:

At present, this lawsuit is proceeding with respect to the McIntosh claim only. As an initial matter, the Court finds that the latest date for discoverable information is the date on which the McIntosh homeowner’s claim was closed. Although the McIntosh flood claim was closed on October 4, 2005, the alleged conspiracy that is the subject of this lawsuit continued beyond the final adjusting of the flood claim; therefore, the relevant time frame for discovery includes the time up to and including the date that the McIntosh homeowner’s policy file was closed. The Court overrules Haag’s objections that seek to limit production to events that occurred prior to October 5, 2005. To the extent that Haag has not provided this later dated material as to any of the discovery requests, the motion to compel is granted. However, the Court notes that it does not appear that Haag was involved in the investigation and adjustment of the McIntosh claim; therefore, it is unclear whether expanding the time frame will result in much additional discovery. Moreover, as demonstrated in its response, Haag has agreed to supplement certain discovery responses to account for some activity and information from October 5, 2005 and beyond.

Since Haag’s attorney Larry Canada was known first as counsel for Forensic (FAEC) in McIntosh v State Farm and the Company is having difficulty maintaining counsel to defend the Rigsby qui tam,I had planned to cover the Rigsbys’ motion in Forked…part 2 as “forked” seemed particularly relevant to an introduction of Canada.  However, “cat in the bag” works, too, but the public hissing contest he attempts as a defense for Haag doesn’t work at all.

The Rigsbys Motion to Compel Haag’s response to Interrogatory No.1 provides the opportunity to examine Canada’s strategy of “hissing” around with word games.  Continue reading “Compel the cat from the bag of Haag’s “pig in a poke” report – a Rigsby qui tam update”

State Farm decides to “mess with Texas” – sues insurance department!

My computer “ate my homework”! Actually, it garbled the post I had for this morning; but, here’s a news flash to give you something to think about while I finish rewriting:

State Farm Insurance has filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Insurance after the state agency took the unprecedented move of publicizing on its Web site recent rate hikes by the company.

Texas’ largest insurer filed suit Tuesday, seeking to protect from disclosure certain information that State Farm said could benefit its rivals in the insurance industry.

Department spokesman Jerry Hagins says the agency’s position is that all documents associated with a rate filing are public information. Posted were two State Farm rate proposals filed over the last eight months that increase homeowner premiums an average of 13 percent.

Hagins tells The Dallas Morning News that the decision to post was partly the result of increases filed so close together.

Another news brief on the suit reported, “State Farm spokesman Kevin Davis said information posted online by the Texas State Department of Insurance ‘contains information about reinsurance’ that would benefit rival companies…”

SLABBED readers will recall that State Farm is self-reinsured and Texas is not the first State to question those costs.  In fact, the Company’s assessment of reinsurance was the chief cause of the controversial rate increase in Florida and a concern expressed when State Farm more recently filed for rate increases in Mississippi and Louisiana. However the Company is no stranger in Texas courts.  Here’s a bit of  background on the story behind the story published after the first of the two rate increases at issue: Continue reading “State Farm decides to “mess with Texas” – sues insurance department!”