State Farm puts the Court to the test in Bossier – files nine motions in limine UPDATED

Defendants mistakenly believe that just because evidence is prejudicial it is not admissible. Not so. All relevant evidence is necessarily prejudicial.

Are we going to see yet another case gutted before trial? Obviously,  State Farm would like nothing better.  The Company filed nine motions in limine on the last day of September with trial set for little more than a month away.

Taken in the order of just how offensive the motions are to the public interest, SLABBED examines the nine starting with #7: to Preclude Testimony or Evidence Relating to Interpretation of Insurance Policy Provisions or Principles of Mississippi Law and to Exclude the Wind Water Claim Handing Protocol.

State Farm anticipates that Plaintiff may attempt to introduce testimony and/or evidence regarding a State Farm document known as the Wind Water Claim Handling Protocol… That document, however, should not be used for any purpose during the trial of Plaintiff’s claims. First, the document should not be used during the coverage phase of trial because how an adjuster investigates a claim has no bearing on what damage wind or flood caused to Plaintiff’s property or on whether those damages qualify for coverage under the plain terms of the homeowners policy.

Second, the document is also inadmissible during the later phase of trial (if any) involving claims for extra-contractual and punitive damages because (1) introducing the protocol would inject unfair prejudice against State Farm and needlessly confuse the jury by introducing a purported investigatory process alongside the controlling Mississippi investigatory standard beyond the abilityof any instruction by the Court to cure and (2) the document does not evidence bad faith or other culpable conduct. (Emphasis added – and doubled)

The following excerpt from the November 1, 2006 deposition of Stephan Hinkle, principal developer of the Protocol, provides just one of the many reasons the Court should carefully consider this motion. Continue reading “State Farm puts the Court to the test in Bossier – files nine motions in limine UPDATED”

Chaney closes door to State Farm’s proposed 45% rate increase – a screen door to let AIR in and out

The Sun Herald reports Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney on Wednesday told State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. he has temporarily denied its request to increase homeowners’ rates by 45 percent in the state’s three coastal counties. h/t Y’all Politics

Chaney said he notified the company he needs more information. Chaney said he ultimately intends to deny the request, but: “We’re open to negotiating with them.”  He said it could be months before a final decision is made…

State Farm spokesman David Majors said the company intends to fulfill Chaney’s request.  “We’ll provide as much information as we can and work with the department with any request so that we can get the rate we’ve requested in the lower three counties,” Majors said.

State Farm is the largest insurer in Mississippi. Chaney said the company has about 26,000 policies in coastal Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, which were hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005…

Chaney said at a press luncheon this week in Jackson that he didn’t think State Farm’s 45 percent request is justified. “State Farm told us they would not write any new business on the Gulf Coast even if we gave them the rate increase,” Chaney said Tuesday. “I don’t know what the incentive would be to even give them a rate increase.”

FireShot capture #031 - 'ISO - ISO Family of Companies' - www_iso_com_About-ISO_ISO-Family-of-Companies AIRDuring those “months”, Chaney will receive a report from AIR Worldwide.

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney and wind engineering firm AIR Worldwide have agreed to terms on a contract on a cost/benefit study required by the Mississippi Legislature leading to development of a hurricane wind damage mitigation.

AIR  – a member of the ISO Family of Companies – said it will also recommend the best ways to Continue reading “Chaney closes door to State Farm’s proposed 45% rate increase – a screen door to let AIR in and out”

Z-Cat’s meow sez hurricane is windstorm and Merlin z-magician pulls memorandum of law from z-hat

Z is for Zurich and the company’s new web site that tells z-truth about the z-weather – a hurricane is a windstorm!  The site also contains an excellent must-read publication, Zurich’s six-page Guide to hurricane emergency action plans.

We talk weather in the south.  Nowadays, weather-talk is usually just polite conversation.  However, for much of our history, ours was a weather-based economy and talking weather was talking money.  Even in that context, no one ever thought of lying about the weather; but, somewhere along the way, something happened that gave birth to one of Sop’s favorite sayings – don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

Policyholder attorney Chip Merlin briefly explained how Sop’s quip applied to post-Katrina litigation in a recent post about Zurich’s new website and admission:

Some insurance company attorneys have been arguing that a “windstorm” is only the “wind” part of a hurricane and not the entire tropical cyclone that has wind, storm surge, and everything else that causes damage from a tropical windstorm. Their clients know better, but it does not prevent defense attorneys from arguing this unsupported bad faith position.

In a follow-up post yesterday, Merlin explains why defining a hurricane as a windstorm is significant and, in the process, also helps me pull together a few thoughts about the unexpected risk of an all-risk policy following Hurricane Katrina:

Randy Santa Cruz, William Weatherly, and I came up with this idea while working in Mississippi following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. I’ve attached a draft memorandum of law so others may use this argument with their own facts and policy language. Let me give you the Reader’s Digest version of this analysis.

The relevant policy language is fairly standard in most homeowner policies. The language regarding “collapse” caused by a “windstorm” is significant Continue reading “Z-Cat’s meow sez hurricane is windstorm and Merlin z-magician pulls memorandum of law from z-hat”