New GAO report pulls juggling act from qui tam Olympics – puts Rigsby and Branch in the lead!

With this week’s GAO release of Financial Management: Improvements Needed in National Flood Insurance Program’s Financial Controls and Oversight, there is no longer a need for a juggling act to find the truth of claims made in earlier reports and the evidence policyholders present the courts – and, in the interest of judicial economy, the qui tam defendants should just kiss their arguments goodbye:

FEMA’s Bureau and Statistical Agent (BSA) serves as a liaison between the government and WYO insurance companies. GAO identified weaknesses at three levels of the NFIP transaction accountability and financial reporting process.

  • First, at the WYO level, our internal control testing of a statistical sample determined that almost 71 percent of WYO company claims loss files did not have the necessary documents to support the claims, or reports were filed late.
  • Second, incomplete BSA-level premium data files (lacking key information such as insureds’ names and addresses) prevented an assessment of the reliability of reported NFIP premium amounts. Further, BSA-level internal control activities were ineffective in verifying the accuracy of WYO-submitted data.
  • Lastly, FEMA’s financial reporting process uses summary data that is overly reliant on error-prone manual data entry.

Apparently, the Branch Defendants decided no one would notice the OIG only examined .0062% of total claims and decided they would try and pass off Hurricane Katrina: Wind versus Flood Issues (Exhibit A, Response to the Branch Proposed Discovery Plan) as a statistically reliable report and sell it to Judge Vance: Continue reading “New GAO report pulls juggling act from qui tam Olympics – puts Rigsby and Branch in the lead!”

Qui Tam Olympics

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:

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Qui Tam Olympics – Defendants’ games pit Judge Vance (Branch) against Judge Senter (Rigsby)

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!

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Continue reading “Qui Tam Olympics – Defendants’ games pit Judge Vance (Branch) against Judge Senter (Rigsby)”