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”

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”