a stain on the profession…a scar on the Mississippi Bar…a devastating blow
A far more devastating blow, however, is the Bar’s betrayal of the spirit, if not the letter, of the Rules of Professional Conduct that provide a framework for the ethical practice of law – a betrayal that wrongly hung a scarlet K on some and wrongly ignored the conduct of others. Continue reading “The Scarlet K”
…these competing interests–the right to full and free access to the courts and the right to be free of groundless and vexatious litigation–are important considerations in the evenhanded process our judicial system provides for the resolution of legitimate disputes …it is my sincere hope that the type of normal, professional, and focused advocacy necessary to resolve the individual merits of the cases still outstanding will presently come to the fore.
Judge L.T. Senter, Abney v State Farm June 4, 2008
It is time and past time for the internecine and acrimonious warfare among the attorneys to stop and for the focus to shift to the task of resolving the many remaining cases on their merits. Anything short of this will not be tolerated.
Judge Senter’s commitment to focus on the individual merits of the cases is as reassuring, and I believe as heartfelt, as his wonderfully warm smile. Consequently, it grieves me greatly to say his north Mississippi roots are showing when he segregates the role of State Farm Mutual from the “merits of the case”.
State Farm Mutual is to State Farm Fire what SKG was to the attorneys working for the member law firms – two parts of the same whole, according to his Order in McIntosh v State Farm disqualifying all attorneys of the member firms; but, contrary to his opinions and orders when plaintiffs attempt to hold State Farm Mutual accountable for the conduct of one of the claims handling process.
During the claims adjustment process, and prior to filing suit on August 20, 2008, Plaintiff provided State Farm with an affidavit of his nearby neighbor, Mr. Ziz, who witnessed the total destruction of the outbuilding and fence prior to the arrival of water.
Joseph Ziz signed his affidavit January 08, 2008, and State Farm continued to deny the Bossier’s claim over the next eight months until the Bossiers finally filed suit just a few days before the SOL on the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Counsel also attached the May 11, 2009, recorded statement State Farm took of Mr. Ziz confirming his eye witness account (Exhibit 3); and Mr. Ziz’s sworn deposition testimony given July 9,2009, that confirms without contradiction his eyewitness account of the destruction of the outbuilding and fence prior to the arrival of water(Exhibit 4).
Thanks to a comment on the Order from eagle eye Shirley Heflin, legal secretary for Chip Merlin for 20 years before she became a full-time student, I caught an important connection that I’d missed earlier.
And my personal favorite part of this is: “The privilege claimed for all the documents reviewed by the Court is “anticipation of litigation.” … Documents prepared in the ordinary course of business are not protected as prepared in anticipation of litigation…”
If it were allowed, it would mean that State Farm was “investigating” a claim with an eye toward litigation for who knows how long? From the inception of the claim?…No, that’s not the way its supposed to be.
I pulled Walker’s Order and checked dates in a footnote to her “favorite part”.
1The emails are dated between March 6, 2008 and June 19, 2008
Aside from interesting reading, these comments provide background for the post I’m writing on cases currently in litigation and I’ve taken the liberty of adding links and bringing the comments forward as a post.
USAA’s attorney tries to make their position seem reasonable by acknowledging some burden of proof in the oral arguments though he did not acknowledge that burden in motions and USAA has not applied that burden in practice.
Nowdy has been doing PACER searches for a couple of weeks now and her findings are born out in Anita Lee’s report from the Saturday Sun Herald. Insurance industry bloggers predicting the demise of these cases were a wee bit premature with their prognostications.
…..The Scruggs Katrina Group, reincarnated as the Katrina Litigation Group, was disqualified in April from representing policyholders in 180 lawsuits SKG filed against State Farm. Judge L.T. Senter Jr. ruled then the member law firms knew or should have known Scruggs unethically paid two former insurance adjusters who were potential witnesses in some of the cases.
When they come up with an on-line 12-step program for bloggers, I’ll be signing in with a my name is nowdoucit and I google – and, suppose I’ll be required to admit that I went on an ACC binge after Proximo post this comment responding to my mention of the ACC clause in a post I put up today.
To win this argument one has to believe the insurer’s “sneaked” this language into the policies when AG Hood and others weren’t looking or that it is sooooo very deceptive that they didn’t know what it REALLY meant…Yeah, ACC is a bitch to understand but it wasn’t put in there the week before the storm hit.
Bitch to understand is right – just check that thread and you’ll see several comments from Brian Martin, including one that, when considered with the text from the State Farm wind/water protocol Proximo posted later, leads me to believe NFIP claims should have a different adjuster when an insured has other policies in place.
One certainty at this point is the ACC is not new. Brian confirmed that and so did Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, quoted in Home-Insurance Traps published by Consumer Reports.<span
“I knew the clause existed but I did not understand it, in part because it is so illogical. And I am an expert,” Hunter adds. “Imagine what consumers don’t know.”
When PACER popped up with Scruggs v Zuckerman Spaeder, there didn’t seem to be a lot of news value in the story – particularly given all the other things we’re working on.
That certainly wasn’t the case, however, when the firm withdrew as counsel for the Rigsby sisters with a cheap shot at Scruggs heard round the world – if mention in Fortune is any indicator – one that, no doubt, embarrassed the Rigsby sisters.
This motion to withdraw is the result of the inability of the Rigsbys and others to pay Zuckerman Spaeder LLP’s fees and expenses going forward, or to adequately satisfy existing fee and expense obligations.
Given the remaining balance is $1.7 million plus change, whatever had been paid prior to that should have been more than enough to buy better manners – not to mention better results.
Speaking of results, how is it that Scruggs ended up getting the dun for the bill when between Judge Coleman and Judge Senter the liability of all members of the joint venture seems abundantly clear?
No real news value like I said but definitely worth a mention.
You give credit where credit is due and the hands-down winner of the Most Believable Motion by State Farm Attorney contest is H. Scott Spraggings of the Oxford firm Hickman, Goza, and Spraggins for his Motion to Disqualify Provost-Umphrey.
He probably won’t accept the grand prize – a picture of the Qui Tam attorneys with the message “Thank you, Scott” inscribed and signed by Tony Dewitt.
Spraggins built his mansion of a motion without reference to the sand of the two assumptions Judge Senter accepted as fact in deciding to disqualify the Qui Tam attorneys – and, in doing so, provides compelling evidence of the lack of due process in the premises underlying Senter’s decision to disqualify the two Missouri firms. Continue reading “State Farm grabs the torch back and burns Provost-Umphrey”
Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe.
Catch a lawyer by the toe.
If State Farm squeals, don’t let go.
Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe.
My mother said
To pick the very best one
And you’re it!
You picked Eeny. Sorry, you’ll have to pick again.Eeny’s second cousin twice removed went to kindergarten with the third son of the second wife of the uncle of Dickie Scruggs. Continue reading “Eeny, Meenie, Miny, Moe”
Judge Senter issued an Order ruling Lumpkin & Reeves are disqualified as counsel for McIntosh in McIntosh v State Farm.
The first opportunity this Court had to address the scope of its Memorandum Opinion  and Order  entered in this cause of action is in its order  dated April 16, 2008, which includes the following excerpt:
The Order  entered in the instant case refers to and includes “other attorneys associated as counsel for the plaintiffs by these firms” and “any other associated counsel.” The Court intentionally used broad language because it was unclear to what extent other lawyers were involved in this and other litigation who might argue, for example, that they had never entered a formal appearance on behalf of plaintiffs and, thus, are eligible to represent one or more of them. Whether appearing or not, actual participation in or connections to this or other litigation are major concerns for the Court.