Judge Starrett on State Farm Fire and State Farm Mutual – a distinction without a difference

Amazing, is it not, that Judge Walker could find no reason to lawfully deny Burger’s motion to file an amended complaint; yet, Judge Ozerden had no problem finding a reason to deny O’Keefe’s:

State Farm Fire maintains that there is a suggestion of bad faith in Plaintiffs’ attempt to add State Farm Mutual, and that allowing Plaintiffs to amend their Complaint to add this Defendant would result in undue delay and would be futile…The Fifth Circuit has interpreted “futility” in the amended pleading context to mean that an amended complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted…

Clearly Judge Ozerden sees a distinction between State Farm Fire and State Farm Mutual. However, his collegue Judge Starrett has declared it a distinction without a difference:

General Hood made some effort to distinguish State Farm Mutual Automobile Company, a mutual insurance company, from State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, a stock insurance company.  The Court believes this to be a distinction without a difference, since all of the stock in the stock company is in fact owned by the mutual company.

Judge Starrett’s opinion on the relationship between State Farm Mutual and State Farm Fire is found in his Order of recusal, entered in State Farm v  Hood (October 10, 2007).

Hood’s position is understandable with a look at the settlement agreement at issue in the injunction State Farm obtained in Starrett’s court prior to his recusal.

agreement 2

Note the Settlement Agreement is specific to Hood’s case against defendant  State Farm Fire! Continue reading “Judge Starrett on State Farm Fire and State Farm Mutual – a distinction without a difference”

this little piggy went to mediation…and this little piggy

This little piggy went to market mediation,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef got taken
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy Presentation2 aCSC went “Wee wee wee” all the way home.

Evidence was produced showing State Farm staged the mediations in advance and actively concealed material evidence from homeowners during the “mediation” process.

Bam Bam’s Bonnet was full of bees and following his buzz about the MID mediation led to a hornet’s nest of information stirred up during State Farm’s  May 1, 2007 deposition of Kerri Rigsby in McIntosh v State Farm.  Attorney Dan Webb, counsel for State Farm, asked the questions:

Q. Do you recall being involved…in putting on mock mediation?
A. We did put on mock mediation, that is correct.
Q. Do you remember you doing anything related to that?
A. Yes.
Q. What part did you play?
A. …Oh, okay. Yes. When we started mediation, they — they asked that — I guess because I had done mediation in Florida, they asked that Cori and I role play mediation for the entire mediation team. Continue reading “this little piggy went to mediation…and this little piggy”

Friday Music: Life imitating art imitating life

One by one the straw men, so carefully constructed, come tumbling down. Simple politics Sid, alway was, always will be……

So who will be first? Which account will be accurate? Watching from afar having fully debriefed several on the inside all I can say is what’s coming has some “fun” potential. Nowdy maybe we should write a book.  😉


11th Circuit overturns Scruggs contempt citation!

Renfroe’s suggestion of mootness by virtue of Scruggs’ satisfaction of the June 5, 2008, contempt judgment is unavailing… The satisfaction of a joint and several liability does not moot the appeal of the debtor satisfying the judgment. See United States v. Balint, 201 F.3d 928 (7th Cir. 2000) (citing Corley v. Rosewood Care Center, Inc., 142 F.3d 1041, 1058 (7th Cir. 1998)) (“Payment of the sanction does not moot the appeal because the appellate court can fashion effective relief to the appellant by ordering that the sum paid in satisfaction of the sanction be returned”)…

That interesting piece of information comes from a footnote in the 11th Circuit ruling vacating Judge Acker’s Order.

The Sun Herald has the story and the 11th Circuit’s ruling.  Way to go, Anita Lee!

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a federal judge who cited then-attorney Dickie Scruggs for contempt of court…Acker held both Scruggs and the adjusters, sisters Cori and Kerri Rigsby, in contempt of court when the records were not returned to the Rigsbys employer, independent adjusting firm E.A. Renfroe. Acker levied a $65,000 fine to compensate Renfroe’s attorney’s fees in pursuing the records.

Scruggs paid the fine into a holding account and appealed Acker’s decision.

Renfroe, which supplied adjusters to State Farm after Katrina, had sued the Rigsbys in the company’s home state of Alabama for breach of contract. The appellate court held that Scruggs was not a party to the Renfroe vs. Rigsby lawsuit and, therefore, could not be held in contempt. The appellate judges also removed Acker from any further proceedings in the case.

The 11th Circuit ruling has Acker eating his own words:

…Based upon our review of the district court’s two contempt orders in this case, we conclude Continue reading “11th Circuit overturns Scruggs contempt citation!”

Merlin: Mississippi Supreme Court Hears Corban Oral Argument Next Week UPDATED 2X

Posted today on the Property Insurance Coverage Law blog and reproduced with permission of Chip Merlin:

Last November, I wrote a post, A Chance For Mississippi Courts To Get It Right, about a very important case that will be argued before the Mississippi Supreme Court next Tuesday, June 9, 2009, at 1:30 p.m. I know many must think that justice sometimes moves at a snail’s pace because six months have passed since I first wrote about the case and we are only arguing the appeal. Corban v USAA is important to Mississippi policyholders, and the arguments can be watched live over the Internet.

Here are some of the Briefs:

Corban raises the most important issues regarding causation and burdens of proof which have been at issue in the Mississippi Katrina cases. Finally, the highest Court in this fair state will hear the issues so important to its citizens. It will be a landmark decision no matter how it is decided.

As additional briefs are added, SLABBED will update this post.

Shake it up baby, come on, come on, come on and work it ALL out – not just Hood and State Farm

With the notable exception of MR-GO, nothing about Hurricane Katrina should be sealed; yet, State Farm has sealed so many Katrina litigation documents, the Company is the hands down winner of the “Duck tape saves the day contest“.

Y’allPolitics.com took a step in the right direction today with this announcement:

Jackson New Media, Inc., publisher of the political interest website YallPolitics.com, has filed to intervene in the 2007 federal court case of State Farm Insurance vs. Attorney General Jim Hood

Jackson New Media attorney Andy Taggart stated, “Hundreds of thousands of Mississippians were adversely affected by Hurricane Katrina. This was a watershed piece of litigation that tens of thousands of homeowners and all Mississippi taxpayers have a stake in. All we ask from the Court is to allow the press and the public their First Amendment right to access to relevant court materials and remove the lingering doubts as to what really happened in this matter.”

You know you look so good,
You got me going now.

The public’s First Amendment right to access relevant court materials does not begin and end with State Farm v Hood. Continue reading “Shake it up baby, come on, come on, come on and work it ALL out – not just Hood and State Farm”

SLABBED Daily – April 18

We may have to call this the weekend edition – but not for lack of news.

My “to do” list for SLABBED is full and as I can find time, I’ll be posting on and off all weekend.  One big item is adding the lastest filings in USA v Delaughter and a post explaining what these documents suggest about the direction of the case.  Another is an update on Road Home litigation and the implications that has for the insurance industry and Katrina litigation.

We do have an update from the Clarion Ledger on Attorney General Hood’s entry in the case the State Auditor filed against former attorney Joey Langston over the MCI legal fees.

State Attorney General Jim Hood will file a motion for summary judgment within 10 days asking Circuit Judge Winston Kidd to rule against state Auditor Stacey Pickering in the case. Pickering will then have 10 days to respond.

As suspected and mentioned in the SLABBED Daily, Hood’s entry is related to the Constitutional issue of the Attorney General’s sole power to file lawsuits on behalf of the State.

Because this is a State court case,  access to court documents is difficult to impossible – a limitation that also applies to Wilson v Scruggs.  The Clarion Ledger has the latest on that story as well. Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – April 18”

SLABBED Daily – April 16

An afternoon edition!  The MRGO documents are slow reading; but, I’m almost done.  Plus, we’ll be seeing more of Sop with the 15th deadline behind him.

Daily news has been a little slow – or so it seems with the Daily Journal just now picking up the story of Balducci’s handwritten Answer to Wilson v Scruggs.  Of course, the delay could be the website redesign that has produced urls that could choke tiny url.

Balducci’s most recent admission is that he conspired with Scruggs and others to influence Hinds Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter in another legal-fees lawsuit, Wilson v. Scruggs…While DeLaughter denies it’s true, Scruggs admitted his part just a few days before DeLaughter was indicted in the matter. But Balducci takes it a step further…

Doesn’t he always take things a step further?  Speaking of taking things further, Y’all Politics posted a flash on the State’s attempt to claim the legal fees MCI paid to Joey Langston Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – April 16”

No standing? Mississippi insurance law gives AG Hood standing

Perhaps Rankin County Judge John Grant really knows how to spell judgment and wasn’t violating Section 7-5-301-5 with his opinion dismissing the Attorney General’s lawsuit against the insurance industry filed in Hinds County Chancery Court. I’ll leave that to the folks at Y’all to figure out as I picked this decision up reading there.

Therefore, the Court finds that the Attorney General has no standing to assert claims on behalf of Nationwide’s or Allstate’s policyholders with regard to the subject policies, including flood exclusions. Judgement (sic) on the pleadings in regard to Defendant’s argument that the Attorney General lacks standing to challenge the private insurance contracts at issue should be granted to Defendants.

The standing of the Attorney General I found in the State Code.  Note the Attorney General has had this authority since 1998 and the date of the last amendment to this section was prior to Katrina.

7-5-301. Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau; creation; purpose.

There is created within the Office of the Attorney General an Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau. The duty of the bureau is to investigate and prosecute claims of insurance abuses and crimes involving insurance. The Attorney General may employ the necessary personnel to carry out the provisions of Sections 7-5-301 through 7-5-311. Continue reading “No standing? Mississippi insurance law gives AG Hood standing”

What a surprise! Deputy Commissioner of MID joins law firm representing State Farm

The announcement in the Sun Herald  mentioned Deputy Commissioner of Insurance Lee Harrell was leaving the Department to join a law firm.

The Mississippi Insurance Department’s deputy commissioner, Lee Harrell, is leaving after 16 years to work for Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz law firm…Harrell spent most of his career under former Insurance Commissioner George Dale, who was defeated for re-election in 2007. Dale, the nation’s longest-serving commissioner, now works in the government relations department of Adams and Reese law firm.

Unlike Dale, Harrell is an attorney. He was unavailable for comment Wednesday. Chaney said Harrell will focus on insurance cases in his new job. Baker, Donelson represents insurance companies and policyholders…Harrell oversaw a market conduct study of State Farm after Dale’s departure. (emphasis added)

Chip Merlin connected the dots.

Anita Lee, of the Sun Herald, recently reported that the deputy insurance commissioner who “oversaw” the Mississippi Insurance Department’s Market Conduct Study of State Farm following Hurricane Katrina has left the Mississippi Department of Insurance. Guess who hired him? The lawyers who represent State Farm in Hurricane Katrina matters. Continue reading “What a surprise! Deputy Commissioner of MID joins law firm representing State Farm”