Breaking News – Judge Senter denies State Farm’s Motion to Exclude Testimony of Relator’s Expert Witness Louis Fey (a Rigsby Qui Tam update)

As I have noted in ruling on other State Farm motions to disqualify Relators’ experts, it is not necessary that a designated expert hold or express his opinion on any issue in dispute that lies outside the expert’s field.

Does anyone else spot a trend?  It can’t be my imagination when this is my second post of the day reporting “you should know but” – Orders in Katrina qui tam litigation.  Judge Senter’s Memorandum Opinion explains:

The Court has before it the motion [709] of State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (State Farm) to exclude the testimony of Louis G. Fey, Jr. (Fey), one of the Relators’ expert witnesses. Relators have identified Fey as an expert on insurance claims adjusting practices in general and the claims-adjusting practices State Farm followed in dealing with the McIntosh flood claim in particular. State Farm has identified its own expert witness, one of its employees, Michael Ferrier (Ferrier), to express his opinion on matters similar to many of those outlined in Fey’s report. The opinions of these two experts stand in stark contrast.

Based upon his review of the State Farm flood claim file, the State Farm wind claim file, the engineering reports prepared by Brian Ford (Ford) and John Kelly (Kelly), memoranda filed on behalf of State Farm in this action, documents prepared and promulgated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), photographs of the McIntosh property (post-Katrina), and the testimonies of Alexis King and Ferrier, Fey formed the opinion that several of the actions State Farm took in adjusting the McIntosh claims (for flood damage and for wind damage) breached State Farm’s fiduciary obligation to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and failed to conform to the standard practices followed by the insurance industry in adjusting property damage claims.

Fey concluded that State Farm improperly used the XactTotal program, rather than the Xactimate program, to assess the flood damage to the McIntosh property. Fey concluded that State Farm’s representatives acted inappropriately in response to the first engineering report (the Ford report) it obtained for the McIntosh property. Fey is also of the opinion that State Farm handled both the engineering reports (the Kelly report and the Ford report) improperly in that it did not put a copy of both reports in both the wind damage file and in the flood damage file and it did not furnish a copy of both reports to the insured…

At this point, it is apparently undisputed that State Farm used its XactTotal program rather than its Xactimate program to assess the flood damage at the McIntosh property. Continue reading “Breaking News – Judge Senter denies State Farm’s Motion to Exclude Testimony of Relator’s Expert Witness Louis Fey (a Rigsby Qui Tam update)”

Hey, brother, can you spare a trillion – nation’s Corporations singing a different song

While CEOs lay off thousands, rake in millions, “A new report concludes that chief executives of the 50 firms that have laid off the most workers since the onset of the economic crisis in 2008 took home 42 percent more pay in 2009 than their peers at other large U.S. companies” and reveals that:

“five of the 50 top layoff leaders received taxpayer-funded bailouts. American Express, for example, gave CEO Kenneth Chenault $16.8 million in 2009, including a $5 million cash bonus…but…has laid off 4,000 employees since receiving $3.4 billion in taxpayer bailout funds…”.

Meanwhile, yesterday, USA Today reported that “Despite record federal debt, Uncle Sam isn’t having any trouble staying afloat. Neither are most large corporations…”

“U.S. corporations are sitting on more than $1 trillion in cash, more than the government is spending on the massive federal stimulus package that Congress approved in February 2009. Earnings are strong, according to Standard & Poor’s, especially in technology and for raw materials producers.”

Contrast wealth of U.S. corporations with the plight of “consumers and homeowners…[who]…are drowning in the USA’s great ocean of debt…are going under at record rates”.

“They used to tell me I was building a dream…I was always there right on the job…
They used to tell me I was building a dream with peace and glory ahead…
Why should I be standing in line just waiting for bread… Hey, brother, can you spare a dime…”

Given record unemployment and a housing market that may not have yet hit bottom but the compensation of layoff leaders is at the top, USA Today defies reason in attributing the difficulty of “consumers and homeowners” in  part “to their own greed” – particularly when the Institute for Policy Studies calculates: Continue reading “Hey, brother, can you spare a trillion – nation’s Corporations singing a different song”

Judge Vance issues a series of Orders – and Reasons “you should know but…” (a Branch qui tam update)

“The Court has issued a number of decisions in this matter, and knowledge of the relevant background will be presumed.”

Either Judge Vance has a dry wit or I’ve gone as slap-happy as the Three Stooges trying to clear my “drafts file” of posts.  Whatever.   Strike up the band provided SLABBED readers with “knowledge of  the relevant background” presumed – and, that said, we take a look at the series of  Orders recently added to the Branch qui tam docket:

Order and Reasons re: defendant American National Property And Casualty Company’s (“ANPAC’s”) motion to review the Magistrate Judge’s order granting in part realtor Branch Consultants, LLC’s (“Branch’s”) motion to compel discovery…[and]…ANPAC’s motion to review the Magistrate Judge’s order granting in part Branch’s motion for protective order.

The Court has issued a number of decisions in this matter, and knowledge of the relevant background will be presumed…

The question now before the Court is simply whether Branch may obtain discovery as to properties for which an ANPAC subsidiary, rather than ANPAC itself, wrote the insurance policy. Contrary to ANPAC’s assertions, this question is not jurisdictional.

ANPAC also objects to the Magistrate Judge’s order granting a protective order to Branch as to certain tax and payment records.

Perhaps ANPAC has a sense of humor, too, as IMO, both matters the Company brought before the Court fall into the “you’ve got to be kidding” category.  Nonetheless, Judge Vance patiently responded to both and explained: Continue reading “Judge Vance issues a series of Orders – and Reasons “you should know but…” (a Branch qui tam update)”

Jim Brown

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
New Orleans, Louisiana

FIVE YEARS AFTER KATRINA — IS ANYTHING DIFFERENT?

With the five year anniversary of Katrina being commemorated this week, and a major hurricane moving up the east coast, the focus of the national news media has been how government at all levels fails to respond. Levees collapsing, inadequate evacuation efforts and political bickering have been reviewed on the news nightly, and highlighted by the new Spike Lee film “If God Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise.” If you live in my part of the country, particularly in Deep South Louisiana or the Mississippi gulf coast, everyone has his or her own personal Katrina story. These poignant personal odysseys of survival are a vital part of the Katrina legacy for those who endured this life changing experience directly, and hopefully, for those who did not.

Katrina hit in the early hours on a Monday morning, August 29, 2005. As early as the Friday afternoon before, the national weather service was predicting a direct hit on New Orleans with a minimum of Hurricane Four intensity. In other words, it was time to get out of Dodge. But no call to evacuate came at any governmental level until Sunday morning, only 12 hours before the raging winds hit the Gulf coast. With only four routes out of New Orleans, traffic was at a crawl.

I was working in New Orleans at the time but I was back at my home in Baton Rouge for the weekend. Heavy Sunday afternoon winds knocked out the neighborhood electricity, but some how, our house kept the power. With temperatures in the high 90s, our home became the hangout for both neighbors who wanted to cool off, and a continuous flow of New Orleans arrivals, both family and friends, looking for somewhere to ride out the storm. A freezer full of gumbo, crawfish etouffee and spaghetti sauce was thawed to feed the growing crowd of evacuees. Continue reading “Jim Brown”