How about some hometown news: Team Insurance wins one it should have

I’m going do to something strange for Slabbed and link the hometown bi weekly paper, the Seacoast Echo, which the locals here affectionately know as the Poo-Poo Periodical.  While you can’t trust their reporting on the City of Waveland as it is hidden agenda driven IMHO you can trust the reporting from Circuit Court in Bay St Louis where Judge Roger Clark quickly dispatched what appears to be a borderline frivolous lawsuit against local insurance agent David Treutel. Former Sun Herald reporter JR Welsh has the skinny for the PPP:

The lawsuit was originally filed in Chancery Court in December 2005, and was later moved to Circuit Court. Trial began Tuesday and concluded late Thursday morning when Judge Roger Clark issued a directed verdict in favor of Treutel.

A jury of five men and seven women was impaneled, but jurors didn’t spend much time in the courtroom listening to testimony from Jolynne Trapani and Treutel. Jurors were sent to the jury room for much of the trial, while attorneys made motions and argued points of law and insurance. Continue reading “How about some hometown news: Team Insurance wins one it should have”

Cry me a river…..the denial river: Slabbed welcomes the sore losers at United Fire and Casualty Company

I’ll admit it, I am some sort of weird geek that gets his kicks out of reading corporate financial filings at the Securities and Exchange Commission website. Occasionally a few disconnected events converge to make what at first blush is an unrelated post. In this case I won’t connect the disconnected events but I will give a hat tip to Editilla who linked a poorly written story in the Des Moines Iowa paper last fall regarding  United Fire and Casualty Company and their continuing problem of mounting and massive losses related to Hurricane Katrina. I never composed a post on the article because it presented an uncritical parroting of a United Fire Press Release and as such was essentially free advertising. Rest assured we’ll be peeking under the hood with a bit more detail and clarity than the Gannett reporter as we again expose  management misrepresentations made to investors. Simply put this company appears to be in financial trouble and is grasping both for straws and convenient scapegoats, in this case slabbing the integrity of the entire Louisiana state court system.

First we begin with the last form 10Q issued by United Fire, specifically the management discussion and analysis of the financial results (MD&A):

Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 29, 2005, causing an estimated $80 billion in damages. Over 95 percent of our policyholders in the New Orleans area suffered damage from Hurricane Katrina, with over 11,000 claims reported. Our total loss and loss settlement expenses inception to date, net of reinsurance, from Hurricane Katrina claims are $289.2 million through September 30, 2009. In the first nine months of 2009, our loss and loss settlement expenses from Hurricane Katrina litigation was $38.3 million, of which $19.0 million was incurred from an increase in our incurred but not reported (“IBNR”) reserves. The primary reason for this reserve increase is the continuing unfavorable legal environment related to insurers of Hurricane Katrina claims in Louisiana………

Conducting business under our subsidiary company, Lafayette Insurance Company, in the state of Louisiana has put us at a considerable disadvantage in regard to our Hurricane Katrina claims litigation. Because Lafayette Insurance Company is domiciled in Louisiana, we are subject to the jurisdiction of the state court system, with limited access to the federal court system. Hurricane Katrina was, and remains, the single largest catastrophe loss in our company’s history. Four years later, we continue to feel the impact of Hurricane Katrina as litigation surrounding the event progresses through the legal system.

Through time we have profiled certain litigation involving United Fire subsidiary Lafayette Insurance Company, Sher being one such case and Robert’s Fresh Market being another.  My business insurer was also Lafayette and of the 7 insurance claims I filed after Katrina the only one I had trouble collecting was my business policy with Lafayette. I found out the reason for my bad experience later on as United Fire Group would admit in the Robert’s Fresh Market trial that they, “delayed and refused to make payments because of the financial stress put on that company because they didn’t purchase enough reinsurance to cover the extent of the catastrophic losses caused by Katrina.”  Now this sounds suspiciously like the kind of nonsense our own Lynda would say and amazingly it evidently was said in open court in front of the Robert’s Jury. Admitting that fact to investors simply won’t do  however and predictably management had a different spin on things for them. The problem for United Fire Group is that once they thoroughly trashed the integrity of the Louisiana courts they still had to deal with the reality of their own socially deviant behavior. So while pumping access to the Federal Courts as some sort of magical panacea United CEO  Randy Ramlo failed to disclose the fact the largest judgement against them happened in federal district court in the Robert’s case as we continue with the United Fire Group MD&A: Continue reading “Cry me a river…..the denial river: Slabbed welcomes the sore losers at United Fire and Casualty Company”

A private matter, a public court – SLABBED reponds to Judge Senter

“This is a public court…It belongs to the citizens. I believe in hearing everything in open court if I can.”

Federal District Judge L.T. Senter, Bossier v State Farm

Open court is not a place where Judge Senter presides.  Instead, it is the envelope of the litigation process – the structural architecture holding together our system of  justice for all.

Bossier property post-Katrina

Like the envelope of homes that stood against Katrina’s wind and water, not all damage to our system of justice is visible to the naked eye.

Neither was the damage to the Bossier’s home.  Continuing with the analogy, tort reform and other system changes simply hide the cracks. What is needed is change that strengthens the structural architecture of the envelope, Open court – change that Judge Senter can make:

  • Modify the Mediation Order so that the period of mediation immediately follows the filing of a Complaint and Answer.
  • Improve the quality and oversight of the mediation process and require plaintiffs to attend a pre-mediation session conducted by the court that fully explains the process.
  • Require all motions for a protective order to fully comply with the Rules requiring specificity in the documentation of “good cause” and deny any that do not with prejudice.
  • Insist settlement conferences are documented with the technology used for video depositions and privately review the tapes before sealing.
  • Limit the power a magistrate has to keep evidence out of court. Continue reading “A private matter, a public court – SLABBED reponds to Judge Senter”

Bossier challenges State Farm’s round tuit approach to compliance with Court’s Order – Trial begins in 2 weeks!

Traditional_Tuit_Times_Red…counsel for the Defendant became aware of a problem with getting the files in and began trying to investigate the holdup on receiving the files. Counsel for the Defendant received an answer and provided that information to both counsel for the Plaintiff and the Court on September 24, 2009. The individual responsible for gathering and scanning the files in the Southern Zone for State Farm had been out of the office the week prior. Nevertheless, a disk had been made of the claim files on Monday, September 21, 2009, within the time agreed to by Plaintiff’s counsel for the production, but the disk did not reach counsel for the Defendant until Thursday, September 24, 2009.  The disk was immediately provided to counsel for the Plaintiff at or near noon of September 24, 2009. Another disk with twelve additional claims was provided on September 29, 2009. (State Farm’s October 7, 2009, Response to Bossier’s Motion for Sanctions) (emphasis added)

The Court ordered documents were to be produced by State Farm by September 17, 2009. Without withdrawing his Motion for Sanctions Under Rule 37(b) For Failure to Comply With Court Order of September 3, 2009, on September 25, Bossier withdrew his motion to expedite a hearing on the matter pending Counsel’s review of the claim files.

JURY TRIAL SET for 11/2/2009, 10:00 A.M., in Courtroom 506, Gulfport, MS, before District Judge L. T. Senter Jr!

Surely, State Farm isn’t trying to delay the trail and set up Bossier’s counsel to take the fall for the delay – but a reading  of Bossier’s Reply to State Farm’s Response in Opposition to the Motion for Sanctions certainly makes it seem that way. Continue reading “Bossier challenges State Farm’s round tuit approach to compliance with Court’s Order – Trial begins in 2 weeks!”

Breaking News – Gagne v State Farm settled today!

After lengthy negotiations, case settled at the conference. Judge Senter will enter the closing order.

As the minute entry on PACER suggests, with the requested specificity in hand, Judge Walker hosted a rousing settlement conference today!

The settlement leaves some important questions unanswered but still on the table Continue reading “Breaking News – Gagne v State Farm settled today!”

Gagne identifies State Farm documents with specificity & fills Judge Walker’s order by deadline

judge-walker-obamicon…the Court directs Plaintiff to identify which documents he would like for the undersigned to consider for in camera inspection. In so doing, Plaintiff should identify with as much specificity as possible those documents to which he feels he is entitled but which are being withheld by Defendant…Plaintiff shall submit to the Court and counsel opposite a list of documents for which he seeks in camera review. This list shall be submitted on or before January 20, 2009, at noon.

Gagne’s response is a straightforward listing of the documents that were the subject of the motion to compel and related motion for review of Walker’s initial denial.  Frankly, I can’t imagine Judge Walker not wanting to see these same documents himself.

Readers following Gagne v State Farm may recall the motion to compel was limited to two categories of documents known to be in the possession of State Farm.

1. The contemporaneous meeting notes taken by the Team Manager (Steve Burke) assigned to Robert Gagné’s homeowners (HO) claim that relate to how to typically handle a slab claim. Continue reading “Gagne identifies State Farm documents with specificity & fills Judge Walker’s order by deadline”