The Sun Herald picks up the coverage of Judge Senter’s decision in Ex Rel Rigsby

Michael Newsome has the Sun Herald story:

A federal judge ruled Monday that whistleblowers Cori and Kerri Rigsby can testify in the lawsuit the sisters brought against State Farm alleging the insurer defrauded the government through claims filed after Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. also asked State Farm Monday to turn over details of certain claims that the company filed through the National Flood Insurance Program. The Rigsbys’ suit alleged the company defrauded the federal government by wrongfully denying homeowner’s insurance claims and shifting the burden for the storm’s damage to the taxpayer-funded NFIP.

A previous order in a different case had prohibited the two from testifying in civil suits against State Farm, but the Risgbys had asked Senter whether that would apply to the current proceedings. Senter said the matter at hand was substantially different than previous actions. He said the two, who worked as insurance adjusters for E.A. Renfroe, a company State Farm used after Katrina, “have relevant knowledge” and should be permitted to testify in all further proceedings. Continue reading “The Sun Herald picks up the coverage of Judge Senter’s decision in Ex Rel Rigsby”

Evidence of criminal wrongdoing cannot be a trade secret – Rigsbys answer State Farm’s Counterclaim

Evidence of criminal wrongdoing – documents which are the utensils through which a crime is committed – cannot be a trade secret.

Sop’s excellent post on behavioral economics provides the contextual frame for the Rigsbys’ Answer to State Farm’s Amended Counterclaim seeking Summary Judgment for Retaliatory Discharge. From that perspective, we start with the Conclusion:

All Of State Farm’s Damage Flows From Its Own Criminal Conduct, Not Relators’ Actions.

  • Since at least September 3, 2005, State Farm Insurance, E. A. Renfroe & Company,and its other many co-conspirators have been engaged in a concerted effort to defraud the United States through its National Flood Insurance Program.
  • State Farm sent a “catastrophe team” to the Gulfcoast for the purpose of carrying out a complex scheme to reduce the amount of cash outlay that State Farm and its reinsurers would have to expend.
  • One mechanism selected for this purpose and process was a plan to push as much of  the coverage issues as possible off on the National Flood Insurance Program through the submission of false and fraudulent claims.  The chief facilitator of this plan was a State Farm employee by the name of Alexis King.
  • Any damages sustained by State Farm as a result of its own criminal and unlawful conduct flow from its own inequitable actions and are not the result of the Rigsbys’ reporting that criminal and unlawful conduct to federal and state authorities.
  • State Farm cannot pawn off on the Relators the costs relating to the defense of their own criminal conduct by claiming that the damages relate to the access of its computer systems.
  • Neither can State Farm make out a claim that a systematic plan to cheat the federal government, the roughly 173,000,000 United States taxpayers, and the Mississippi policy-holders out of billions of dollars is a “trade secret” as that term is commonly understood.

If the logical thinking of Counsel Continue reading “Evidence of criminal wrongdoing cannot be a trade secret – Rigsbys answer State Farm’s Counterclaim”

SLABBED Daily – May 26

With lies you may go ahead in the world, but you can never go back.

Writing from the beach at Destin looking ahead to the water in amazement that neither this house nor any other is elevated – and remembering the elevation required on the Mississippi coast is the highest in the nation.

I can’t help but wonder what impact the various acts of fraud described in last week’s hearing on the Rigsby qui tam case had on rebuilding requirements – but I suspect a lot, perhaps as much as they had on Gene Taylor’s legislation.

Before I started writing this morning, I read Brian Martin’s comment identifying specific examples of fraud in State Farm’s handling of NFIP claims following Katrina and his conclusion:

The instructions are the fraud.

Brian made the point of fraudulent instruction much better than I did in my written-in-haste comment about the fraudulent instruction of adjusters on the significance of a waterline.  Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – May 26”

Kerri tells about Katrina the water storm – Rigsby qui tam Day 2

Anita Lee continues her reporting on the Rigsby qui tam hearing with this mid-day update.

“We were told this was a water storm,” former adjuster Kerri Rigsby testified this morning in a federal court hearing.

One adjuster was assigned to the federal flood and State Farm wind claim on each property damaged by both elements. State Farm told adjusters to “hit policy limits” on claims paid by the federal flood insurance program and an engineer would be sent out to determine whether State Farm owed any money for wind damage under its homeowner’s policy.

Let’s break here, pull up a paragraph from below that caught my eye:

State Farm played videotaped testimony Kerri Rigsby had previously given in which she said that she thought the flood policy payment was proper.

Now, let’s pull related information on this videotape deposition from this morning’s post on the Responses filed by the qui tam attorneys to State Farm’s motions to exclude all testimony of the Rigsbys’ four expert witnesses.

Why is this man smiling? (a qui tam update)

Judge Senter
Judge L. T. Senter photographed by James Edward Bates, Sun Herald

I have no idea why this man is smiling.  Until this photograph ran with  Anita Lee’s package of stories in today’s Sun Herald, I had never seen his picture, much less had the opportunity to meet him.

Maybe he’s smiling because he’s happy someone finally took a deposition of Lecky King and got answers to their questions.

Just kidding. He looks more like an everyday smiler to me, a generally pleasant person, not one who saves smiles for special occasions.  I hope so as he is none other than  L.T. Senter, Judge for the Federal Court, Southern District of Mississippi – and king of Katrina litigation on the Coast.

Anita Lee’s package was packed with “firsts”.  In addition to Judge Senter’s photograph, her lead story is the first report we’ve had about what Ms.King had to say once she started talking.

State Farm decided within days of Katrina it was storm surge that obliterated Coast homes near the waterfront, a State Farm claims manager has testified, instructing adjusters to pay federal flood claims but wait for investigations to determine if the company owed money for wind damage.

State Farm claims manager Alexis “Lecky” King described how the company Continue reading “Why is this man smiling? (a qui tam update)”

SLABBED Daily: May 12

SLABBED Daily, you bet.  Every slab on the Coast is slabbed daily and will continue to be as long as the insurance industry maintains the influence over our nation’s disaster policies documented in Lecky King’s memos and email messages .Yet, every slab has a story and some, like this one, talk.slab with power pole and steps Continue reading “SLABBED Daily: May 12”

SLABBED Daily – May 11 (O’Keefe, Rigsby qui tam, MRGO)

The more “off” than “on” internet access from Oxford accounts for the absence of SLABBED Daily over the weekend – and the almost constant rain for my late departure from Greenwood where I’m writing today before heading home.

Sop picked up the smoking O’Keefe response. It’s even hotter when read with the O’keefe’s amended complaint and illuminating deposition of Robert Tripple, State Farm senior vice-president for this region.

How much hotter? Well, hot enough that State Farm’s opposition to the O’Keefe’s amended complaint addresses little else but the eternally claimed “improperly dominated [sic] State Farm Mutual”.

All that heat sheds light on the Rigsbys’ qui tam complaint.  Now do you see it? Speaking of light, I read an interesting case summary that made me think of State Farm’s recent motions to exclude testimony of all of the Rigsbys’ expert witnesses – State Farm’s Appeal of the decision in a Texas case,  Rodriquez v State Farm.

See if you don’t agree that this State Farm claim about Dr. Sinno is similar to the claim State Farm made about the expert in the Rodriquez case:

State Farm Motion to exclude testimony of MSU professor Ralph Sinno:

He [Dr. Sinno] repeatedly admits that his opinion is based on “guesswork”and “speculation”.

State Farm Appeal of Rodriquez v State Farm:

State Farm argues that Dabney’s testimony is so unreliable that even Dabney himself refers to his opinions as a “wild ass guess”.

Here’s how the Court ruled on the point in the Appeal: Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – May 11 (O’Keefe, Rigsby qui tam, MRGO)”

Breaking News -Judge Senter’s Order allows deposition of Lecky King in Rigsby qui tam UPDATED with link and comment

There are two types of discovery sought by the Relators, namely documents related to the insurance claim giving rise to this cause of action (referred to herein as “the McIntosh claim” or “loss”), and the depositions of seven individuals (three of whom are associated with the Defendants, with the remainder being witnesses to the McIntosh loss).

Defendants, speaking primarily [268] [269] through State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (State Farm), do not object to producing the McIntosh flood claim file; the McIntosh homeowner’s claim file; any photographs or video images of the McIntosh property in State Farm’s possession; and repair invoices and related materials concerning the McIntosh property.

Obviously, that leaves the issue of the seven depositions requested by the attorneys representing the Rigsby sisters – and that’s where I found Judge Senter’s thinking in the Order for discovery prior to the upcoming pretrial hearing most interesting.

He clearly gave the subject a great deal of thought; but, the question is what was he thinking. My non-lawyer reading about the False Claims Act leads me to believe that had he ruled against the Rigsbys without allowing discovery, his decision would have been ripe for appeal.

I want to believe he allowed discovery, and particularly the deposition of Lecky King, because it is unquestionably the right thing to do.  There will never be the needed healing if the people on the Coast feel the Court has not been fair. Continue reading “Breaking News -Judge Senter’s Order allows deposition of Lecky King in Rigsby qui tam UPDATED with link and comment”