State Farm began their defense in the Rigsby whistleblower lawsuit involving allegations they and other insurers defrauded the National Flood Insurance Program after Hurricane Katrina early this week and I immediately noticed a foul odor that seemed to emanate from the Federal Courthouse in Gulfport when former NFIP Director Dave Maurstad took the stand for State Farm. To understand Maurstad and the concept of the revolving door, you gotta understand these guys circle from private sector insurance related jobs to government regulatory positions and back each time collecting more career enhancing favors. With this bunch it is always about the next job so the insurance industry could not have had a better water boy in place when Katrina hit than Dave Maurstad.
But once upon a time ol’ Dave was not so keen to testify about the NFIP handling of Hurricane Katrina claims no siree. In Bolden v FEMA for instance Dave had to be compelled to show up at the Federal Courthouse to testify about the expedited claims process he and Lecky King came up with after Katrina. Worth noting is rather than let Maurstad testify FEMA opted to settle Bolden immediately. The bottom line is most people I listen to think Maurstad is a self serving hack under whose watch the NFIP sank into technical insolvency.
But it got deeper yesterday folks as State Farm retiree Lecky King took the stand with the sound of miniature violins playing in the background as Anita Lee explains in her latest dispatch from the Courthouse (I hope McClatchy sent a gas mask with her and is considering hazardous duty pay):
Career almost destroyed
Lecky King, on the other hand, said State Farm attorneys prepared her for her testimony. She spent her last few years at the company working on policyholder lawsuits filed after Katrina and on the case against her, which at one time was part of a criminal investigation that never resulted in charges.
And under the new NFIP rules once the insurance company gives the storm damaged homeowner (and the taxpayers) the shaft, they stick ’em with the bill for it. Multiply the above many times over and you get the picture of what the insurance companies did down here after Hurricane Katrina.
Actually, Judge Senter pulled his knife out at the end of last week and while I was trying to find time to get those two Orders posted, he was sharpening his knife on two more – but what he has in mind is no turkey, it’s the December 1st Status Conference on his schedule:
I have decided to continue the trial of this case from its present setting on December 1, 2010, and to set a status conference on that date to hear from all parties on the merits of the motions that remain undecided at that time.
These motions are fully briefed, and I do not anticipate requiring any additional briefings at this time. After this conference, I will reschedule the trial to accommodate my rulings on the pending motions.
After reading the materials submitted in support of this motion, including the Rule30(b)(6) Deposition of the Rendon Group [Document 756, Exhibit 1] and theSupplemental Responses submitted by TRG [Document 756, Exhibit 2], it appears to me that the material in question has only marginal relevance, if any, to the merits of the State Farm motion  to dismiss.Continue reading “Judge Senter sharpens his carving knife on Orders in Rigsby qui tam”
Dishonesty is the fundamental component of a majority of offences relating to the acquisition, conversion and disposal of property (tangible or intangible) defined in the criminal law such as fraud…Intellectual dishonesty is dishonesty in performing intellectual activities like thought or communication…the conscious omission of aspects of the truth known or believed to be relevant in the particular context.
When the Rigsby sisters discovered Lecky King’s “Put in Wind file – Do Not Pay Bill Do not discuss” handwritten note stuck on the face page of engineer Brian Ford’s report on Katrina damage to the McIntosh property, it became the “face” page, one might say, “that launched a thousand” Katrina policyholder claims into court. More recently, it launched State Farm’s counsel into an intellectually dishonest representation of related evidence to the Court.
“SF [State Farm] used pre-conceived notions as to the cause of the damage and directed the resolution of the claim so that the ultimate outcome conformed to that pre-conceived belief.”
The written disclosure of the Rigsbys’ Risk Management expert, Louis G. Fey, continued and identified the first evidence documenting State Farm’s pre-conceived notions as to the cause of damage:
SF obtained a regional engineering study and instructed their adjusters to use that report as a reference or as investigative input at the least or to use it as “the bible” at worst. The industry’s fair claim practices hold that each claim must be addressed on its own merits and no pre-conceived assumptions should be used to influence the outcome.
This “bible”, the Haag Report, was the cornerstone of “pre-conceived belief” that a coordinated effort could reduce State Farm’s exposure by attributing damage to the excluded flood water. SLABBED examined the Haag Report in the September 2009 post Haag in the Church of What’s Happening Now in Rigsby qui tam. According to the “bible”, water came before the wind – a prophecy that would be revealed as Haag ascended into State Farm’s Wind-Water Protocol, FEMA’s Expedited Claim Handling Process, and guided by hell’s own angel, Lecky King, into the reports of Forensic’s engineering.
*Bam Bam readers, astute observers they are, will readily detect that certain events in the “Story” are dramatized for effect, including the anonymous dialogues below.
In August 2005, the month of Katrina, headquarters in Bloomington was bedlam. For all its awesome power, State Farm could do nothing but watch the leviathan hurricane augur the Gulf, trying to decide which sovereignty it would smash to smithereens. Didn’t really matter, State Farm was sure to hemorrhage its record profits, and the thought of it was killing everyone. No one . . . no select senator, congressman, lobbyist, corrupt federal judge or ex-FBI man could do anything this time.
Katrina was aiming for Louisiana-Mississippi. Hourly alerts spewed out to department heads, permeating every building on the so-called Bloomington “campus.” In the days ahead, scores of corn fed, flat-butted minions – “Stepfords” – the townspeople called them, would be summoned from various corporate divisions: legal, claims, Cat services, underwriting, media relations, data management, etc. Even the draconian “Claims Counsel” would be called into session.
Katrina threatened to burn a hole in the company’s record profits. With 800 in-house lawyers, State Farm had nearly perfected the art of defeating claim payments, but given the scale of Katrina, this simply wouldn’t do here. The situation demanded that the smartest guys in the room come up with a solid mitigation strategy. Continue reading “Federal Flood Coverage, A Love Story”