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”
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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   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.