I recently met with a group of political strategists that noticed our little blog in Soggy Bottom and the information exchange was very enlightening for me. I’m as interested in the mechanics of the story as the story itself and the tales I was told of how these folks manipulated the traditional media were very interesting. More than any other skill set these folks had a keen understanding of human behavior which is a shared passion with us at Slabbed.
The garden variety bashing I sometime engage in to drive traffic sometimes obscures the fact Slabbed is in reality a quest for knowledge as in getting all the facts that surrounded the blanket denials of insurance coverage after Katrina no matter where those facts may lead. This may sound elementary, indeed even simplistic, but I’d submit we stand in stark contrast to our own insurance regulators that ignored all the evidence of fraud on part of their corporate benefactors from the insurance industry after Katrina, Mike Chaney even going so far as to attack the Rigsby sisters, who exposed the fraud perpetrated by State Farm on the US Treasury here in Mississippi. This frankly came as no surprise to me, especially after it came out that the lawyer who ran the market conduct study for Mr Chaney left the Mississippi Department of Insurance for State Farm’s Jackson based law firm.
Insurance companies have lots of money to throw around and spend vast sums of money on shills, propagandists and their own in-house PR departments. These folks are mostly rent an opinion hookers that dispense half-truths in furtherance of their own paychecks. Armed with lots of factoids and ready made quotes, deadline pressed journalists flock to them in droves, often uncritically lapping up the intellectually dishonest drivel folks like the III’s Robert Hartwig, who this past summer passed off a bogus poll about the NFIP to the media. To her credit, Becky Mowbray over at the T-P busted Hartwig and frankly I was amused at Mike Chaney’s blatant duplicity in the Sun Herald’s reporting on the same topic. I guess Chaney tells so many whoppers he can’t keep them all straight but that is another post.
I mention all this because Ashby Jones and Joanne Lublin recently wrote a story for the Wall Street Journal on the topic of corporate whistleblowers and the new financial re-regulation legislation which is so full of self-serving corporate PR spin these two journalists should be ashamed, Continue reading “And the Wall Street Journal put two reporters on the story and still managed to butcher it. An Allstate Hurricane Katrina Fraud Update.”
Yes, Sop, you heard someone say there was a qui tam hearing today before Judge Vance! It must have been a hoot, too! I wrote about defendant Fidelity’s bright idea to collect any NFIP overpayments from the policyholders paid by the defendants in taproot- digging up the fact. However, my bad for not realizing until today’s Minute Entry that Fidelity was represented by none-other than the self-proclaimed King of Flood, Gerald Nielsen:
Currently, virtually every major participant “Write-Your-Own Program” (“WYO”) insurance company in the NFIP utilizes Nielsen Law Firm, L.L.C. to handle its NFIP-related litigation on a national basis. If one were to run a Westlaw search of the undersigned’s name and the word “flood,” one would find that the majority of all Program caselaw being announced in the country over the last few years lists the undersigned as the attorney of record for the WYO carrier.
Believe me, readers, this is not encouraging! Nielsen likely conceived the convoluted reasoning in the Company’s Answer and Third Party Demand and argued it before Judge Vance today – telling her, “It would be morally correct to sue the homeowners to collect the overpayments.” I bet she thought she he’d lost his scienter – actually, I bet she thought she was hallucinating!
The Minute Entry of the hearing does show she issued an Order ensuring there will be no service of the Third Party Demand until she decides the matter. In a related decision, Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan re-issued the Scheduling Order with notes about matters still to be decided. The biggest issues among the big issues on the table – the Branch Motion to File an Amended Complaint and the limits on Discovery- should be somewhat familiar to readers of the Qui Tam Olympics. The set of slides that follows below introduces the Discovery issues in the context of the Supreme Court’s Rockwell decision:
Well actually Judge Vance said she would be hearing arguments on selected issues this morning. We hope to have something a bit later today on the proceedings. Stay tuned.
So, in a way I was hedging and saying that if the Olympic stuff doesn’t work out at least I can be a lawyer.
Digging through the latest filings in the Rigsby and Branch qui tam cases, I began to notice the Branch Defendants’ were using rulings from the Rigsby case in their defense – a strategy that could prove helpful to State Farm’s current defense effort to limit discovery in Rigsby. Coincidence? Probably not given the way Renfroe v Rigsby, the Alabama case, was used for Rigsby qui tam discovery in McIntosh v State Farm.
Games with Judge Acker were child’s play. However, there is only one way to describe games that pit Louisiana Federal District Judge Sarah Vance against Mississippi’s L.T. Senter – a qui tam Olympics with a torch too hot to handle!
Continue reading “Qui Tam Olympics – Defendants’ games pit Judge Vance (Branch) against Judge Senter (Rigsby)”