Mississippi Rigsby & Louisiana Branch: Dueling Qui Tam?

Rebecca Mowbray and Anita Lee have done wonderful jobs covering insurance issues in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Our new readers may be interested to know that Ms Mowbray has recently won a prestigious business journalism award for her story “Same house. Same repairs. Same insurer. Why different prices?”. Not to be out done Anita Lee, along with Don Hammack, Michael Keller, Joshua Norman and Margaret Baker were recognized as finalists for the 2006 American Society of Newspaper Editors “Deadline News Reporting by a Team” for their coverage of Katrina news here on the coast.

Yesterday and today we are greeted with their reports on the latest State Farm filings in Ex Rel Rigsby, where State Farm filed to have the lawyers disqualified, the case dismissed and the Rigsby sisters charged with fraud. This latest attempt by State Farm to crush Cori and Kerri Rigsby has been largely lost in the shuffle of case analysis but the threat to them is very real. So before we move to tie in these developments with the Branch case in Louisiana lets start with some excerpts from yesterday’s Anita Lee story which comes complete with quotes from the Rigsby lawyer Anthony Dewitt. Continue reading “Mississippi Rigsby & Louisiana Branch: Dueling Qui Tam?”

Gulfport Library on Tomorrow’s City Council Agenda

DLP sent me an email asking to publicize tomorrow’s City Council meeting where a vote will be held to rescind the demolition of the old Gulfport Library.  The post which describes the events leading up to tomorrow’s vote is here. This issue merits further public discussion and input. Vote with your feet and show the City leaders you care about this issue. Be there tomorrow at 2:30PM.

 sop

State Farm grasping at straws in response to Qui Tam?

Would Jethro Bodine be able to figure out no one in the trailer on March 11, 2006, was watching the Beverly Hillbillies?

Read Toot, Toot Judge Senter – hear that whistle blowing – a Sop and Nowdy tag team post – and see if you agree with us

Those who would so easily dismiss the Cori and Kerri Rigsby as document theives are misguided…

Then, give yourself a screen name and comment (valid email required but not published).

I’m adding this here as the other post is too long. I saw this AP story on yesterday’s developments thanks to our friends over at the New Orleans News Ladder. Our blogroll just grew by one.  :-)  sop

A Quick Shout Out

In my hobby world of investing, considering alternative viewpoints is crucial to success. While Katrina and the resulting litigation has been a frequent topic for national discussion, one of the reasons I began blogging was the story…..our story was not being conveyed from a local perspective.

Understanding Katrina and the totality of it’s aftermath requires living the experience. Understanding the litigation means there is no substitute for being present and accounted for as Mr Richard Trahant, the attorney for the Weiss family pointed out here. Unfortunately the alternative viewpoints of those who were slabbed by Katrina became lost in the shuffle on the national stage, often dismissed as fringe or emotional as well exhibited by “Thick” yesterday against the well reasoned alternative viewpoint of “Coastboy” in an insurance industry law blog.

Against that backdrop I was most honored to have yesterday’s Allstate Challenge post featured in Ms Vickie Pynchon’s Negotiation Law Blog. Her reply to the comment I left there was both excellent and even handed in my opinion. I urge our readers to pay Ms Pynchon’s entry a visit. Continue reading “A Quick Shout Out”

Breaking: Broussard Reversed by 5th Circuit. Sent Back for New Trial (Updated 2X)

Here is the today’s full Sun Herald story by Anita Lee.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a $1 million punitive damages verdict against State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. on Monday and sent the case back to federal court in Gulfport for a jury to determine how much the company owes Biloxi policyholders Norman and Genevieve Broussard.

State Farm was not malicious or grossly negligent in adjusting the Broussards’ claim, the court found, negating punitive damages that are awarded to deter bad behavior.

“We’re happy with the appellate court’s decision,” said State Farm spokesman Phil Supple. “This ruling confirms our belief the jury should have been given an opportunity to evaluate the question of what damage was caused by wind and what damage was caused by water. It has also been our belief there was no basis for punitive damages, and the appellate court agreed.” Continue reading “Breaking: Broussard Reversed by 5th Circuit. Sent Back for New Trial (Updated 2X)”

We the People…..

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

This Margaret Mead quote graces my Yahoo profile. The quote and sentiment has accompanied my new found political activism on insurance issues, specifically Gene Taylor’s multi peril bill HR 3121 that has clung to life seemingly against all odds.  The resulting cyber journey has literally taken Nowdy and I across this state and country.

Trying to make a difference on an issue as large as Cat insurance has proven a tough nut to crack and is a long term project as insurance issue lifers like Brian Martin of Representative Taylor’s staff can attest. However I’m gratified that my work on insurance helped inspire one of my employees to take a stand on a local issue she feels strongly about, the Gulfport library and its relocation. I briefly mentioned Deb in an earlier shout out on another topic. Continue reading “We the People…..”

The Herald Tribune Takes the Allstate Challenge and Slams Claims Practices

I saw a link posted today on the Yahoo ALL board where Nowdy and I also post that I can’t let slide by today.  Before I jump to today’s Herald Tribune story some background is needed. This post will be long out of necessity. I hope our readers can hang with us while the story is developed.

First stop is the Allstate corporate website and a press release issued just hours after Commissioner McCarty suspended Allstate from doing business in Florida.

Allstate announced today that it publicly released approximately 150,000 pages of documents pertaining to a review of its claim practices conducted in the 1990s. Allstate was assisted in the review by business consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Continue reading “The Herald Tribune Takes the Allstate Challenge and Slams Claims Practices”

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”