Judge Senter issues three Orders in Rigsby qui tam case

Let’s jump right in and start with Judge Senter’s Memorandum Opinion and Order on State Farm’s Motion to Exclude from Evidence the Settlement Agreement Between the Relators and Forensic Analysis & Engineering Corporation:

Mr. Robert Kochan (Kochan), on behalf of Forensic, signed the settlement agreement that is the subject of this motion…

State Farm contends that the terms of the settlement agreement and the statements the settlement agreement contains are hearsay and are therefore inadmissible…Relators acknowledge that the settlement agreement and the statements it contains are hearsay, but contend that the statements are still admissible…for purposes of impeaching Kochan, should his testimony at trial be inconsistent with the statements in the settlement agreement.

In the memorandum State Farm submitted in support of its motion, Kochan’s deposition testimony is extensively quoted. I have read these portions of Kochan’s testimony, and it does not appear to me that Kochan has denied the truth of any of the statements contained in the settlement agreement. In response to State Farm’s questions, Kochan has explained his understanding of these statements and the reason each of the statements was made, and he has done so in very precise terms. In the testimony I have read, he has done so without contradicting the statements set out in the settlement agreement…

To a certain extent, this motion asks the Court to make an abstract ruling, a ruling on the admissibility of potential impeachment material, without having the benefit of hearing what the witness will have to say under oath. For this reason, I will not rule the document inadmissible for the purpose of impeaching Kochan’s testimony at this time. I do agree with State Farm’s contention that the Forensic settlement agreement is inadmissible for any purpose other than impeachment of Kochan.

So, what did Judge Senter decide in his Order?

The settlement agreement may be used for impeachment purposes only in the event the individual who signed the agreement on behalf of Forensic should give testimony that contradicts any of the factual statements contained in the agreement, and to this extent the motion is DENIED; and The settlement agreement may be used for no purpose other than impeachment, and to this extent the motion is GRANTED.

Next up – Judge Senter’s Memorandum Opinion and Order on State Farm’s Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Certain Witnesses on Grounds of Untimely Disclosure by Relators.

All six of these individuals are State Farm policyholders who live within one-half mile of the McIntosh property.

Because the storm conditions at the McIntosh property are so obviously relevant to the issues in dispute, Relators’ disclosure of these six individuals as potential witnesses can hardly have come as a surprise to State Farm. According to the Relators’ responsive memorandum of law [712], the identity of these potential witnesses was made known to State Farm during the course of discovery. If this is the case, formal supplementation was unnecessary, and it follows that the supplementation could not have been untimely.

Given these witnesses’ status as State Farm policyholders, it is logical to infer that State Farm has had every opportunity to talk with these individuals and find out what they know about the storm conditions on their properties. In light of all this, and absent a showing of any substantial prejudice, I will DENY the motion [687] and allow these individuals to remain on the list of potential witnesses. I will permit State Farm to depose these witnesses, if they so choose, within thirty days of the date of this opinion.

Last – but certainly not least – Judge Senter third Order of the day granted the Rendon Group’s Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Memorandum in Opposition to State Farm’s Motion to Declassify Certain Documents.

Want background? Type “Forensic”;  “ex rel Rigsby v State Farm”; or “The Rendon Group”  in the SLABBED search box.

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