Adjusters “special employees” not “contractors” – Farmers lost $10.4 million “wrongful termination” case filed by you won’t believe who

“…the amount of control that Farmers exerted over the everyday adjusting activities of these workers belied the title of independent contractor”

Judge Senter stopped short of employment law in deciding the question of “retaliatory discharge” in  ex rel Rigsby v State Farm.  Although there is no such claim in ex rel Sonnier v Allstate, Relator Kermith Sonnier is the adjuster who successfully sued Farmers for wrongfully terminating his employment:

Plaintiff Kermith Sonnier worked as a commercial claims adjuster for Farmers Insurance from 1994 to 1997. His job included evaluating the largest losses sustained by apartment buildings and condominium associations in the Northridge earthquake of 1994.

Sonnier alleged that beginning in 1996, Farmers began to pressure him to groundlessly lower his loss estimates. He refused, and Farmers terminated him, despite a clean work record, on the purported grounds that it was reducing its work force…

Hold those thoughts as I stop to point out that Sonnier’s work for Farmer’s was through his affiliation with Pilot, the firm providing adjusting services for Allstate following Hurricane Katrina and a named defendant in the Branch Consultants qui tam case against Allstate.

Through his attorneys, Stephen C. Ball and Derrick Fisher, Sonnier brought an action against Farmers for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Sonnier’s counsel state that their biggest challenge was not proving Farmers’ impropriety but establishing the existence of an employer-employee relationship between Farmers and Sonnier. Continue reading “Adjusters “special employees” not “contractors” – Farmers lost $10.4 million “wrongful termination” case filed by you won’t believe who”

BREAKING NEWS – new Katrina qui tam unsealed: ex rel Denenea v Allstate

With the MSM starting to call and ask about this case, it’s time for this breaking news to break!    Louisiana Federal District Judge Carl Barbier has unsealed ex rel Denenea v Allstate!  The Complaint , filed in May 2007 and amended in November 2009, indicates this litigation will get the truth out about Allstate’s handling of policyholder claims following Hurricane Katrina:

Relator is John H. Denenea, Jr. (“Denenea”), an individual domiciled in the Parish of Jefferson, State of Louisiana and a United States citizen who brings this civil action for violations of 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1) and (2) for himself as relator and for the United States Government (the “Government”) as plaintiff pursuant to 31 U.S.c. § 3730(b)(1)…As an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Louisiana who represented the Weisses, Majoue, Shearman, Whelan, Richardson, Smith, and Johnson in connection with their homeowners insurance claims against Allstate, Denenea acquired and has direct and independent knowledge of the information on which the allegations set forth herein are based, and he voluntarily provided that information to the Government before filing this action…

Denenea, who, “on behalf of himself and the Government, respectfully demands a trial by jury of all issues so triable” is known to SLABBED readers as the attorney who embedded hyperlinks to video depositions in the briefs he filed with the federal court, Southern District Mississippi. Rick Trahant, Jack Morris and Brian Sherman are representing Denenea:

Made defendant is Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”), an insurance company authorized to engage in the insurance business under the laws of all fifty States with its principal place of business in Northbrook, Illinois…

Allstate and the Government are parties to a “Financial Assistance/Subsidy Arrangement,” 44 CFR, Part 62, Appendix A (the “FASA”), entered into under the National Flood Insurance Program, 44 CFR § 59.1 et seq. (“NFIP”), pursuant to regulations promulgated by the Federal Insurance Administration (“PIA”) by authority of the National Flood Insurance Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4001 et seq. (the “Act”).

The FASA requires Allstate to “investigate, adjust, settle and defend all claims or losses arising from policies issued under this Arrangement. Payment of flood insurance claims by the Company shall be binding upon the FIA.” 44 CFR, Part 62, Appendix A, Art. lI(F).

In adjusting and settling the claims of the Weisses, Majoue, Shearman, Whelan, and Richardson under their respective homeowners policies and Standard Flood Insurance Policies for combined wind and flood damage to their respective insured properties, Allstate, unbeknownst to the insureds, knowingly and systematically fabricated and falsified documents including but not limited to proof of loss forms, flood narrative forms, WYO flood processing request forms, NFIP preliminary report forms, property loss worksheets, and/or other documents, forms, and/or information which substantially inflated the amounts of these insureds’ flood insurance claims at the expense of the Government, while at the same time enriching Allstate by substantially deflating the amounts of these insureds’ homeowners insurance claims. Continue reading “BREAKING NEWS – new Katrina qui tam unsealed: ex rel Denenea v Allstate”