Juriscribe tackles arbitration/mediation and exposes the sleazy underbelly of Justice Inc.

Juriscribe was kind enough to email us a guest post on the topic of forced arbitration and mediation and the brewing scandal in the for profit mediation industry that has finally attracted the attention of Congress.  When I think of mediation I think of the MID post Katrina mediation program which was effectively controlled by the insurers and was described by most of the policyholder particiapants I know as demeaning:

People get worn out,” he says. “They get tired of fighting and give up. Eventually, they take whatever they are offered.”

Hunter’s assertion is perfectly illustrated by the story of Pam Collins and Joy Panks, co-owners of the Twin Lights gift shop in Old Town Bay St. Louis.

“Our insurance company owed us $172,000,” Panks says. The last time she and Collins drove to Hattiesburg for mediation, a representative from their insurance company met them with a check for $55,000. The check was physically placed on the negotiating table, and the two women were given three chances to accept it. “The fourth time, they said they were going to pick it up,” Panks says.

“We were begging,” Collins confesses, thinking back over all the company’s previous offers. The bargaining started at $30,000, then went up to $40,000. “They said $55,000 was the last offer.”


“Privatization” is a euphemism for big, for-profit corporations in the private sector capturing the right to sell and operate traditional government services from the public sector, and billing it all back to us at grossly profitable rates. Used to be corporations had to keep their greedy-assed tentacles off government services, cause that’s what we pay taxes for. The idea of Wall Street running prisons . . . unthinkable! Not so fast, Bush hadn’t run yet. When Dubya got in, for-profits went on an 8 year privatization binge, grabbing every government service they could get their French-cuffed arms around. Privatization was just one of the profit plays opened up by the Chaney-Bush-Rove triumvirate, and was of course payback for Bush pay-to-play donations, a/k/a political bribes. Today, for-profits own and/or manage federal and state prisons (CCA and Wackenhut); run and control FEMA (CSC); own and control city water systems; and are pushing to get interstate roads and highways in the bag.  The sales pitch: private business can do it cheaper and better. (Right, let’s contract out our next war to Blackwater and KBR).

What’s all this got to do with arbitration and mediation? Well, for many years an outfit called American Arbitration Association (AAA) has been greasing political palms, hoping to privatize the justice and court system and turn into a billing bonanza, like the prison thing. They got a good sales pitch too: “folks, if you’re pro-business, we gotta stop the lawyers, courts and juries, and we gotta get mandatory mediation-arbitration clauses in every kind of contract, and even where we don’t have one, we gotta get the courts to first push everybody through mediation-arbitration.” First thing the insurance companies love about this AAA tune is the melodic line “bye-bye constitutional right to jury trial.” Second, “how sweet it is” that people gotta pay twice. They’ve already paid to build the courthouse and salary the judge and staff to work there, now they gotta pay AAA’s exorbitant hourly rates for all this stuff again. That ought’a teach ’em to screw with big business! (Incidentally, in Mississippi some of these same folks are right now pushing to invent a new court, God forbid, the so-called “business court”). Continue reading “Juriscribe tackles arbitration/mediation and exposes the sleazy underbelly of Justice Inc.”

Slabbed Daily – May 27th: Some insurance litigants never catch a break….

At least not career insurance defense medical expert witness David Aiken who evidently couldn’t decide if he loves or hates his paymaster/insurer USAA in a case we blogged on extensively and gavel to gavel back in early 2008. They evidently never forgave USAA’s other experts – the engineers at Rimkus Consulting whom Judge Senter dismissed from the lawsuit after the plaintiff’s portion of the case was presented. Simply put the Aikens had no case against Rimkus.

Early this morning we were emailed the link to the Aiken’s appeal at the 5th Circuit by a lawyer who finds Mr Aiken’s love-hate relationship with USAA amusing.  Evidently so do the folks at the Times Picayune as they have also run an AP story on yesterday’s decision at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that appeared at NOLA.com this afternoon. Before we link the story we’ll begin with the decision itself on courtesy of Scribd. Continue reading “Slabbed Daily – May 27th: Some insurance litigants never catch a break….”

The Corban Conundrum: The elephant in the room (updated)

Plaintiff respectfully requests the Court to stay these proceedings pending
a ruling from the Mississippi Supreme Court in Corban v. United Services Automobile  Association, et al No. 2008-IA-00645-SCT.

The latest development in Politz v Nationwide is the Motion to Stay filed by Mrs. Politz and Nationwide’s Response in Opposition filed today before the  noon deadline set by Judge Senter who shortly thereafter issued an Order denying the Politz motion.

None the less, Corban has been the “elephant in the room” since the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.  At the end of this post is a linked list of background information, including the summary Overview and update on Corban v USAA.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Start with this quote from the Appeal and dig in!

…the lower court concluded “the anticoncurrent causation clause will be applied herein as interpreted by the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, thereby barring coverage under the homeowner’s policy for any damage caused by water as defined in the policy or caused concurrently or sequentially by wind and water in combination”.

One has to wonder how the Fifth Circuit could come up with such a convoluted decision. InPlainly Ambiguous: Have Plain English Laws Made Insurance Policies Less Ambiguous?, David Rossmiller explains that such results are intended. Continue reading “The Corban Conundrum: The elephant in the room (updated)”

some for you, some for you, some to share – Judge Senter plays Santa in limine

Judge Senter’s Order on the various motions in limine in Payment v State Farm reminded me of Santa passing out gifts – and he kindly listed the various motions much like we’ve done here on SLABBED; so, they’ll be easy to follow.  Since I’m way short of time to do more than just get this up, I reversed the order of the Order and made it a post.

Ten of the twelve filed by State Farm are subject to this Order:

The Court will address the [106] Motion to Preclude Evidence or Testimony that Plaintiff’s Home was Completely Destroyed by Wind, and its companion–the [107] Motion for a Ruling that Plaintiff’s Acceptance of a Flood Insurance Payment Constitutes an Admission that at Least that Amount of Flood Damage Occurred and that the Flood Insurance Payment Must be Offset Against any Recovery Under Plaintiff’s Homeowners Insurance–by separate order.

The “separate order” wasn’t on the docket last night but as soon as it is and I’m where I can post, I’ll get it up.   See if you can guess what about his Order will keep me smiling wherever I am!

State Farm’s [99] Motion to Exclude Evidence, Testimony, or Argument Relating to Mississippi Department of Insurance Bulletins and Related Correspondence is GRANTED, subject to the above comments;

State Farm’s [100] Motion to Preclude Plaintiff from Introducing Testimony that Waiver or Estoppel Create or Modify Coverage is GRANTED;

State Farm’s [101] Motion to Exclude any and all Testimony, Evidence, and Argument Regarding any Grand Jury or Government Investigation of the Insurance Industry’s Response to Hurricane Katrina is GRANTED;

State Farm’s [102] Motion to Exclude any and all Testimony, Evidence, and Argument Regarding Claims Handling for Properties Other than Plaintiff’s is DENIED, subject to the above comments;

State Farm’s [103] Motion to Exclude Testimony, Evidence, and Argument Relating to Interpretation of Insurance Policy Provisions or Principles of Mississippi Law and to Exclude the Wind/Water Claim Handling Protocol is GRANTED IN PART (as to interpretation of the policy and law) and DENIED IN PART (as to the wind/water protocol); Continue reading “some for you, some for you, some to share – Judge Senter plays Santa in limine”

TMI as legal strategy? WaPo provides food for thought.

After complaining about the incredible number of exhibits and attachments to the latest State Farm motion in McIntosh, the story on TMI – “too much information” – in the Sunday edition of the Washington Post caught my eye. According to the guest columnist writing for the Post, TMI is…

…burying us in extraneous data that prevent important facts and knowledge from reaching a broad audience.

Lawyers are familiar with this phenomenon. In fact, they use it to their advantage: They know that if you want to hide damaging information about a case, there’s nothing like a document dump to do the trick. You make the facts freely available — along with so much irrelevant data that no one will ever find them.

Almost makes me want to give it another try – but just almost on a Sunday afternoon more inviting to an afternoon nap.

Dick and Zach oppose Renfroe's joinder and motion

Since “the blogging class” is cursed not only by work but a need for sleep, I’ve pulled text from the motion that discusses the points made in the opening summary. Bold text, other than headings, has been added for emphasis of selected points and related comment is added in closing.

I’ve made no secret of how distasteful I found the Oxford depositions. Questions like those Belle quoted in a comment to a Thursday post were very much on my mind as I read the Scruggses response incorporating some questions and glanced over those in the Appendices.

That’s when it struck me that what I was reading was not just distasteful but likely a classic example of Freudian Projection, the most primitive defense mechanism known other than denial.

The individual perceives in others the motive he denies having himself. Thus the cheat is sure that everyone else is dishonest.

Projection applied to this question, for example, Have you had an affair with Kerri Rigsby? would suggest someone involved gained access to information by establishing such a relationship. Perhaps, Tammy, the first to come to mind, had more than cottonwoods whispering in her ear. Continue reading “Dick and Zach oppose Renfroe's joinder and motion”

Speaking of a "slabbed party" the invites are out for Rigsby depositions on September 3

A quick check of Pacer showed invitations – yes invitations as in you are invited– are out for the September 3 deposition of the Rigsby sisters and it looks like a big party. No RSVP is required and there are probably 50 or more names on the invitation list – all of whom are invited to cross examine – but Maison Heidelberg’s was not among them and only one attorney from the Gilbert Randolph qui tam team made the cut.

Maybe one of our lawyer-readers can explain. There are bound to be rules about who is invited, how much time is allowed others, and so forth – and how the one-hour provided under Walker’s order translates to such an open-ended invitations.

Other questions: Both notices state the depositions are “for all purposes” but don’t the rules Judge Senter set for qui tam discovery make related questions off limits? Another, if the sisters can not be witnesses in the McIntosh case, what use is their testimony?

State Farm’s notice, actually amended notice one per sister, was on the docket today. The text follows below with the Renfroe notice thereafter – emphasis added to both pointing our text related to these comments. Continue reading “Speaking of a "slabbed party" the invites are out for Rigsby depositions on September 3”

Road Home recipients in NOLA short by average $54,586 according to new report

No wonder I got lost and made the wrong connection on my recent stroll down memory lane – the Road Home is short, way short according to the PolicyLink report: A Long Way Home: The State of Housing Recovery in Louisiana 2008. The Times Picayune has the story:

In New Orleans, 81 percent of Road Home recipients received awards that did not cover the needed repairs to their homes. The average shortfall was $54,586, the report stated. In other parishes, 69 percent of recipients had shortfalls.

…Most storm-beleaguered Louisiana homeowners did not receive enough Road Home money to completely rebuild their homes, and limited recovery dollars will only help replace a portion of the state’s damaged rental units, according to a report to be released today…

Since Road Home grants are calculated based on pre-Katrina property values — not the actual replacement cost of the dwelling — the gaps were especially large in neighborhoods with low pre-storm property assessments, such as the Lower 9th Ward and eastern New Orleans, the report found. Road Home recipients in those areas may have been fairly compensated relative to the pre-Katrina value of their properties, which was the stated goal of the program, but the grants typically would not cover the cost to rebuild those homes.

Currently the Road Home litigation is stalled – and were it not for Beau, NAAS, Sop and others I would be, too. It is this case, and not the anti-trust case, in the Sun Herald story of Judge Duval’s ruling last week. Continue reading “Road Home recipients in NOLA short by average $54,586 according to new report”

Settlement noted

The docket report on Boyd v State Farm, includes an entry made today noting a settlement has been reached in the case. Yesterday Mr. Boyd submitted an affidavit stating his claim against State Farm was valued at less than $70,000.

Readers may recall Boyd’s case was unusual because he had previously settled his claim in mediation – and Sop’s post on that aspect generated a good bit of discussion. Hopefully, Mr. Boyd is now both settled and satisfied and can begin to move forward within days of the third anniversary of Katrina.