Aye Aye Captain Jack. Slabbed opens Davy Jones’ locker and finds an unethical Ed Rust hired gun.

There is a method to the madness here at Slabbed and one of my methods involves periodically revisiting certain news links we post to see if there are any belated comments worthy of follow-up. Such was the case with Anita Lee’s recent story on Chris McIntosh that we highlighted and sure enough there was a late comment by one Captain Jack that I could not let pass since it involves information we’ve been holding onto for at least a year and it is there we begin:

I agree with the other posters here. State Farm should be shut down. The federal government needs to investigate and prosecute. For details about State Farm’s bad behavior and the Oklahoma court ruling for sanctions and contempt against State Farm and attorney David V. Jones of San Antonio, Texas, check out http://badfaithinsurance.org and http://truthaboutmold.info/insurancenews.

Actually Cap there is so much more as the legal profession likes to keep attorneys like Jones as a dirty secret. Fortunately for us we had ring side seats via PACER when Jones enrolled in several Katrina cases involving State Farm in Louisiana including one where the lawyers for the plaintiffs tried to have Jones booted for lying on his pro hac vice affidavit only to have Judge Kurt Engelhardt, David Vitter’s former campaign manager, ignore a clear cut ethical violation. We’ll circle back to that.

Here is the deal from a layman’s perspective since we’ve written a good bit on the use of out of state hired guns. Sometimes an insurer has a case comes along that needs to go away no matter the means or methods.  Since not all of the insurance defense bar are unethical scudda beans sometimes ethical local firms need to be moved out of the way so the right kind of lawyer can come do the dirty work.  It worked for a while with James Robie in McIntosh v State Farm. Robie has hung more than a few skins on the wall for Ed Rust and State Farm but is just one man. Another is David Jones of San Antonio Texas.

There is no view like the view from the top moderating Slabbed and I’ll add it did not take long for Jones long to figure out we were onto him.  Continue reading “Aye Aye Captain Jack. Slabbed opens Davy Jones’ locker and finds an unethical Ed Rust hired gun.”

Shaving with Hanlon’s Razor – the unsealing and disclosure of Rigsby qui tam (Part 1- 2006)

“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

It hardly seems possible there is anything about ex rel Rigsby v State Farm that has not been subjected to scrutiny and speculation; but, starting around a month before the May 2009 pre-trial hearing and continuing during the many that have followed, something on the docket would catch my eye and I’d make a note to take a closer look later.

“Later” came when I saw mention of a familiar name on the blog Main Justice:

A Southern District of Mississippi prosecutor is in the mix for the Northern District of Mississippi U.S. Attorney nomination, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told Main Justice…Assistant U.S. Attorney Felicia Adams is being considered by the Obama administration for the Northern Mississippi slot…

Ms. Adams has been the “face” of the government in the Rigsbys’ qui tam case.  Her signature, not that of Dunn Lampton, “the U.S. Attorney who wasn’t fired,” is affixed to the documents filed by the government.

However, this series of posts is not about Ms. Adams, reportedly now a leading candidate for appointment to one of the two USA positions in the State.  Instead these posts are a year-by- year timeline reporting the events reflected in the docket of ex rel Rigsby v State Farm, supplemented with events recorded on the docket of other cases when required to document events related to the unsealing and disclosure of the Rigsbys’ qui tam Complaint.

Nonetheless, the government’s position on the unsealing and disclosure of ex rel Rigsby v State Farm often left the Rigsby sisters as vulnerable as a “sitting duck”.

Did “the government” shave the case with Hanlon’s Razor or malice? SLABBED reports, you decide.

Continue reading “Shaving with Hanlon’s Razor – the unsealing and disclosure of Rigsby qui tam (Part 1- 2006)”

Since we’re talking insurance adjusting today

Jessica at Indexed drew a salient card recently which captures some of the general public perceptions of claims professionals. Warning if you are an insurance adjuster on a bad day or work at Pilot, E. A. Renfroe or Worley please don’t peek below the fold. Continue reading “Since we’re talking insurance adjusting today”

Judge Senter’s decision on Relator’s claim of Retaliatory Discharge raises question – Where’s the evidence?

There is no evidence in this record to indicate State Farm had the authority to terminate the Relators’ employment status. Accordingly, I will grant State Farm’s motion for summary judgment on this portion of the Relators’ claim.

In awarding State Farm summary judgment on this point, Judge Senter put his yardstick for all decisions on the table – evidence and controlling law.

However, his decision on the Relators’ Claim for Retaliatory Discharge from Their Employment begs the question – Where’s the evidence?

In a zoo? Exactly. Isn’t that where seals usually do their tricks? In this case, the zoo is the Federal Court for the Northern District of Alabama and the trick seals do in that zoo is shield evidence – the contract between E.A. Renfroe and State Farm, for example.

Knowing what evidence is needed begs a second question that in turn begs a third – Could the Rigsby sisters overturn this decision? and, in their position, Would you focus on winning every battle or winning the war?

E.A. Renfroe  provides adjusters under contract with the Company to separately contracted insurance companies and other entities.  Not all employee leasing and temporary help agencies are as specialized as Renfroe but all professional employer organizations (PEO) contract with individuals and separately contract with employers.  However, these agencies are “third parties” and the contracting employer retains the authority to hire and fire, set compensation and other terms of employment. Continue reading “Judge Senter’s decision on Relator’s claim of Retaliatory Discharge raises question – Where’s the evidence?”

We say yes, they say no – Renfroe and Rigsby respond to “say what” order issued by Judge Acker

Next thing you know, there’ll be pom poms in the court and supporters cheering for team Renfroe or team Rigsby; but, for the moment they’re not, so let’s examine the answers counsel for Renfroe and Rigsby filed to Acker’s duh-say-what Order.

If it wouldn’t totally remove what little logic there is to this process of Acker’s, I’d start with the “Scruggs” question (#3)  and the responses – both written and implied – that follow.  Not to worry, however, these first two won’t take long.

Acker’s First Question:

Is the court to understand that plaintiff is waiving any claim it may have to damages in the form of its attorneys’ fees except for the previously paid $65,000?

Rigsbys’ Response:

The Defendants have been advised by counsel for Renfroe that it will respond to this question. Defendants dispute that Renfroe is entitled to any damages in the form of attorney’s fees based on their breach of contract claim.

Renfroe’s Response:

No, Renfroe does not waive its claim for damages in the form of its attorneys’ fees incurred in pursuing its claim for breach of contract (excluding the $65,000 already paid)…They were able to stipulate to the “consulting fees,” but not to the attorneys’ fees..[and]…agreed that Renfroe’s entitlement to attorneys’ fees could be decided by the Court, as fact finder, on motion…Renfroe will file by January 30, 2009…

Ready for the next? Continue reading “We say yes, they say no – Renfroe and Rigsby respond to “say what” order issued by Judge Acker”

The Scheme: final curtain – who done it (Chapter 7 qui tam)

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.

a good neighbor, the one on your side, good hands people – the relationship between policy holders and their insurer is one of trust. – beginning with trust in the local agent that sells the policy; reflected in trust of the company that follows.

Yet behind the clever slogans and familiar faces lies a culture that views every claim as a potential case of insurance fraud – and trust is replaced with betrayal.  Premium dollars have made fraud detection a separate industry – one with its future riding on the continued public perception of widespread insurance fraud.

Fraud, to be certain, is a serious problem; however, the resulting problem-focused solutions have created far greater problems.

I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway

The industry’s response to Katrina -captured  in Frontline’s The old man and the storm –  has been nothing short of a disaster itself, as this preview of the January 6, 2009 annual update suggests.  The charted coursea  haystack of needles – is an enterprise management system.rate_my_network_diagram2

From an IT management perspective, Enterprise Management essentially means enterprise-wide network administration, which is becoming increasingly complex. The corporate network environment is no longer tied to a single vendor, let alone a single platform. More and more, corporate intranets are multidomain, multiprotocol, multiplatform systems. They contain hardware and operating systems from a number of different, competing vendors… Continue reading “The Scheme: final curtain – who done it (Chapter 7 qui tam)”

Rip Van Winkle fills and files “kitchen sink” in Rigsby Qui Tam

Honest to goodness, if Rip Van Winkle didn’t wake up and file the Amended Answer for defendant Forensic Analysis and Engineering, it’s difficult to account for many of 67 defenses (yes, 67!).

New to the case or not, any Statue of Limitations that might apply would not consider the date an attorney makes an appearance; but, that’s only date that might, just might, be beyond some limit.


Some or all of the claims may be barred by the applicable statutes of limitations.

Like many of the defenses, the fifth had no supporting citation.  In those defenses with a citation, the reference was broad with no information on how it might apply.  For example:


Some or all of the claims are barred by public policy.

A particularly bewildering defense are the many related to punitive damages beginning with defense thirteen and continuing through defense twenty-six save the one exception, defense twenty-five.


Punitive damages violate the due process, equal protection, and excessive fines clauses of the constitutions of the United States of America and the State of Mississippi.

What makes the twelve punitive damage defenses so bewildering is that no punitive damages are sought. Continue reading “Rip Van Winkle fills and files “kitchen sink” in Rigsby Qui Tam”

The Scheme – first there were just word games (Chapter 2)

Water, water everywhere
nor any drop to drink.
Water, water everywhere
now insurance won’t sink

The word game started with water – lots and lots of water – lifted by Katrina’s powerful winds, waves became walls of water – collapsing with such force water went further inland than shown on any flood map. New Orleans, the Big Easy, became the only bowl it never wanted and, those playing the word game began calling Katrina, the windstorm, the Great New Orleans Flood.

Immediately after Hurricane Katrina came ashore, and before anyone could possibly assess the damage, the insurance industry began pushing the message that the damage was caused by flooding, rather than wind.  “The fact that a government-run levee fails and creates a flood does not create a liability for private insurers,” said Robert Hartwig, chief economist with the Insurance Information Institute in New York.  “I would say on dollar terms, at least among homes, the majority is related to floods.”

The distinction was important because wind damage is covered under homeowner policies – flooding is not.  Industry representatives took the message one step further when they tried to spin the story as “The Great New Orleans Flood”.

The phrase first appeared in a press release issued by insurance industry Risk Management Solutions (RMS), just three days after Katrina made landfall.  RMS claimed that the following would account for at least 50% of the anticipated total economic losses, and that, “The 2005 Great New Orleans Flood has developed into the most damaging flood in U.S. history.

Winning this round of the word game was a natural for RMS, the world’s leading provider of products, services, and expertise for the quantification and management of catastrophe risk.  Little more than 60 Continue reading “The Scheme – first there were just word games (Chapter 2)”

The Scheme

The best place to hide a needle is in a haystack of needles.

From the time my children were old enough to doubt there really was a Santa Claus until the older two were grown, I can only recall one year that none of the three found where I was hiding their Christmas presents – the year I wrapped their gifts and set them under the tree.

Frankly, I was surprised they didn’t figure out my scheme; but nowhere near as surprised as I was the OIG couldn’t find the scheme to shift cost to the NFIP – much less as shocked as I was to learn investigators from MID couldn’t find it either.

Maybe both investigations were looking for a needle in a haystack when every element of the scheme was in plain view, a needle hidden in a haystack of needles. Pick them out one by one, put the elements together and you’ll see what the Rigsby sisters saw – the scheme.

My kids made looking for their gifts an insiders game with a legitimate reason ready to cover if they were caught. One searched the car, I can’t find my math book; another the closets, I’m looking for my sweatshirt; the little one they sent under the beds, I’ve lost my tennis shoes.

Wind versus water is an insiders game, too. It can be played as a word game or a mind game, a blame game, a power game; even a monopoly game with players swapping property cards purchased with printed paper that passes for money. Continue reading “The Scheme”

Renfroe makes it a discovery duet – as out of tune with reality as State Farm

Two voices singing the same old song – second verse same as the first, a little louder and a little worse.

Given that their Motion for Leave only seeks leave to request the production of documents directly from State Farm, Renfroe does not intend to respond to the Motion for Leave.

That said, Renfroe opposes any suggestion that the Relators should be given leave of court to conduct expedited discovery from any party at this stage of the litigation.

With respect to the Motion for Extension, Renfroe opposes the extension to the extent that Renfroe’s agreement would in any way suggest that Renfroe consents to the Relators’ proposed discovery requests.

Renfroe, as a courtesy to counsel opposite, does not otherwise oppose the Relators’ new counsel being given an extension of time to respond to pending dispositive motions beyond the deadlines previously set by this Court’s August 6th Order.

Renfroe’s agreement to a short extension should neither be read nor interpreted as constituting Renfroe’s approval of or assent to the Relators being granted leave of this Court to conduct their proposed discovery which is clearly improper as shown in State Farm’s response filed on August 27, 2008.

The response speaks for itself – deny claims, deny discovery, deny justice is a consistent pattern in this toss them a moon pie crowd with its let them eat cake attitude and 40 acres and a mule sense of justice.