A Trip Down Memory Lane and What Has Changed Since

I ran across the CNN Presents episode The Town that Fought Back on You Tube and watched it again. It is interesting to see what has changed, what the issues were and still are from the time it was shot in 2006 to the present.

The Oklahoma City litigation is over and State Farm’s bad behavior there has been completely revealed. We have gone from thousands of Scruggs Katrina Group suits to less than the 180 today that now must seek new lawyers with Friday’s disqualification of the Scruggs successor Katrina Litigation Group. We find that State Farm claims adjusters ordering additional engineering reports when they didn’t like the answer on the first one was not SOP per Wayne Drinkwater yet it happened a good bit. Still there is no explanation why it happened.

FEMA trailers have since given way to cottages and many more people are back in their homes though we still lack affordable housing for the working poor. Life has returned to the new post Katrina normal but things will never be the same as they were before the storm. The political fight for insurance solutions in HR 3121 had not yet begun in the Summer of 2006. How time flies….

Those wanting background on the insurance litigation will find the show interesting. Those wanting to see Dickie Scruggs talk about how long it takes for a criminal to get a day in court will find it ironic. Like the other CNN presents special hosted by Kathleen Koch Saving my town: The fight for Bay St. Louis watching The Town that Fought Back brings back memories of the past and evokes hope for the future in seeing how far we’ve come. Continue reading “A Trip Down Memory Lane and What Has Changed Since”

Breaking: Judge Senter Disqualifies Katrina Litigation Group

Anita Lee has broken the story that the remainder of the old Scruggs Katrina Group is disqualified from representing their insurance plaintiffs. The order entered today was in the McIntosh case but applies to all their remaining clients. I have a feeling Chip Merlin’s phone will now be ringing off the hook. Here is a copy of the order and here is a copy of Judge Senter’s opinion.

The reasoning relates to the payments made to the Rigsby sisters by Dickie Scruggs:

I have determined that disqualification is required because Scruggs, acting in furtherance of the SKG joint venture, paid the Rigsby sisters a substantial sum of money (a consulting fee of $150,000 per year) despite Scruggs’s knowledge that the Rigsby sisters were material witnesses in connection with many hurricane damage claims that were likely to become the subject of litigation. While Scruggs made the arrangements for these payments, the other members of the SKG joint venture knew or should have known that the payments were being made, and I am of the opinion that their failure to take timely and reasonable remedial steps or to object to this arrangement amounts to a ratification of Scruggs’s actions. While the other ethical misconduct alleged by State Farm and Renfroe are substantial, the payments to the Rigsby sisters are, in and of themselves, sufficient to warrant disqualification. Continue reading “Breaking: Judge Senter Disqualifies Katrina Litigation Group”

Bloomberg Article The Insurance Hoax Finalist for Prestigious Journalism Award

Lord knows I don’t have time to write this post but I made the “mistake” of checking in on Sam Friedman’s blog at the National Underwriter and saw two pieces well worth noting. I’m going to concentrate on the Bloomberg story The Insurance Hoax that is a finalist for the Daniel Pearl Award for Investigative Reporting from the Deadline club in New York.

Mr Friedman’s opinion that the story is a hatchet job on the insurance industry has some validity in my opinion, from a straight industry point of view. He is very fair in his reporting on insurance issues and I respect his take. However, under the talking points do lie some very real problems with how insurers adjust their claims. As industry blogger David Rossmiller pointed out himself in a particularly insightful post on the legalities behind a “first party claim”:

An adversary relationship is assumed to exist between the insurer and insured from the time the claim is filed, and generally speaking, no fiduciary duty arises on the part of the insurer.  This doesn’t mean it’s OK for insurers to cheat you, merely that it is understood that an inherent conflict exists to an even greater degree than in third-party claims, where it could also be said that a conflict exists, because paying for the legal defense of an insured is expensive.  All this is inherent in the nature of insurance, and is why we have various rules ranging from bad faith laws to  interpreting ambiguities against the insurer in insurance law. Continue reading “Bloomberg Article The Insurance Hoax Finalist for Prestigious Journalism Award”

Ship for Brains: Emeril Blasts Port Plans

As a Port of Gulfport slabee who saw first hand the inadequacy of the decision making from Don Allee’s office prior to Hurricane Katrina their neighborhood ruining, ill advised westward expansion plan came as no shock to me when it was announced early this year. The plan ran into a buzz-saw of local opposition lead by Rick Carter, whose Island View Casino would lose it’s Island View had the Port filled in the sea-bottom and expanded to the west. Today we are greeted with this story in the Sun Herald on Emeril Lagasse coming out in opposition to the Port’s plans, no doubt in a preemptive strike as Allee and company seem determined to spoil the area’s fragile ecology even further.

Bam! With a bad taste in his mouth, one of the South’s most famous chefs wants to send the Port of Gulfport’s expansion plan back to the kitchen. Continue reading “Ship for Brains: Emeril Blasts Port Plans”

The March Report….

I’m taking a break from the pile ‘o files on my desk to pen a short post on our first month here on slabbed and the posts our readers found most interesting. I won’t bore you with a top 10 list; instead I’ll share what you liked that jives with the posts I liked. Nowdy please feel free to chip in with your favorites that were also crowd pleasers. Obviously the response in terms of both page views and visitors far exceeded our old blogspot site and our wildest imaginations. Drumroll please…. Continue reading “The March Report….”

Is this is the kind of coastal development Mr. Hunter can live with….

Yesterday evening we were greeted with news on WLOX TV about the Wyndham Hotel having plans to come to the Biloxi waterfront with a 24 story hotel development.

Biloxi may have found the non-gaming anchor that it needs to reinvigorate its waterfront. Wyndham Hotels presented a plan to the Biloxi City Council that would bring the world’s largest hotelier to the small craft harbor.

The story continues:

McElroy’s Seafood Restaurant was always considered a special part of Biloxi’s harbor area. But like so many other businesses, it got washed away by Hurricane Katrina. Continue reading “Is this is the kind of coastal development Mr. Hunter can live with….”

The Sun Herald Weighs in (Again) on Multi-Peril Insurance

Today we are greeted with an editorial in today’s Sun Herald regarding the Senate Banking Committee obstinance in fixing NFIP and solving the public policy problems that arise from the recurring wind-water controversies that result from the structure of the Flood program. Without fruther commentary on my part here is today’s Op-Ed.

Robert Hunter may be right. He is, after all, a former insurance commissioner for the state of Texas and a former director of the National Flood Insurance Program. He is now the director of the Consumer Federation of America and an advocate for change in the insurance industry. Continue reading “The Sun Herald Weighs in (Again) on Multi-Peril Insurance”

Multi-Peril Insurance: Dead for the Year?

Last Thursday, the National Underwriter contained a story of the unusual coalition that had developed in opposition to HR 3121. Matt Brady reports:

In a case of politics making strange bedfellows, J. Robert Hunter of the Consumer Federation of America and the Reinsurance Association of America have joined to oppose legislation expanding the National Flood Insurance Program.

Those that closely follow insurance issues know Mr. Hunter runs insurance issues for the Consumer Federation of America a non profit group composed of other consumer oriented non profits that speak with a single voice on issues they deem important. In this case the debate on HR 3121 and the CFA’s opposition derives from the intersection of environmentalism and insurance theory.

The basis for his opposition to plans to expand the NFIP, Mr. Hunter said, is that while it may sound like something that could help consumers, he believed it would instead likely only aid developers looking to build along the coast. Continue reading “Multi-Peril Insurance: Dead for the Year?”

More on the Ocean Springs Survey

Here is the Sun Herald story on the Ocean Springs survey. It adds some color not found in either the WLOX story or the Newswatch this Week Interview. I’ll add my own experience since Katrina is the loss of coastal residents is also the state’s loss as the overwhelming majority of re-locations which I am familiar involved moving to another state as borne out by resident Brigitte Bernhardt in the story.  Tennessee seems the destination of choice for those I know who have left.  The Sun Herald story:

Mayor Connie Moran said Friday that a survey of her city demonstrates how post-Hurricane Katrina insurance price increases, in some cases more than 200 percent, are financially crippling coastal residents and towns. Continue reading “More on the Ocean Springs Survey”

Mayor Connie Moran Interview on Wind Insurance and Resident Survey

At the end of February we wrote a post concerning a survey Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran was conducting on insurance issues. The survey is now complete and Mayor Moran was ready to talk about the disturbing results she received in the feedback. She noted on WLOX TV yesterday that Ocean Springs has issued only one commercial building permit so far in 2008 and placed the blame squarely on wind insurance as the reason. The interview runs around 8 and a half minutes and is well worth watching. Thanks to Cowboy for capturing the video early this morning for us on the repeat broadcast. It can be found at the bottom of this post.

WLOX also ran a companion news story Friday on their 5 PM broadcast.  Here is the link to that video reported by Patrice Clark.  Following is the print story found on the WLOX website.

Sky rocketing insurance rates are pushing many residents out of Ocean Springs. That news comes from a survey conducted by the city to learn more about residents’ post-Katrina insurance problems. Continue reading “Mayor Connie Moran Interview on Wind Insurance and Resident Survey”