Menage a Frois law Firm Baker Donelson again exhibits blatantly unethical courtroom behavior a what else is new update

I’ve been sitting on some very nice legal briefs out of Lafayette Parish  for a few weeks now regarding a pair of highly unethical lawyers in Baker Donelson partner Monico Frois and her insurance defense sidekick Daniel Brenner with the firm of Bolen, Parker, Brenner, Lee & Gremillion out of Alexandria.

This post will highlight their shameful conduct in Landry v PSA of Lafayette but to set up Baker Donelson, I’ll first remind our readers they landed on our radar screen when Deputy Mississippi Insurance Commish Lee Harrell left MID and went to work there. The revolving door in the insurance biz is nothing unusual but Harrell took brazen to another level as Baker Donelson counts State Farm as a client and before he left MID Harrell whitewashed the Market Conduct Study untaken by MID against State Farm for their shameful claims practices in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina before collecting his payoff for same via Baker Donelson’s Jackson Mississippi office.

Through time I collected a few tidbits on Baker Donelson ethical sleazery so their latest bit of jackassery came as no surprise.  Following the insurance litigation indicated to me a sizable segment of the insurance defense bar could not win a case unless corners were cut and sadly there are plenty of lazy judges that allow all manner of underhanded tactics simply so cases move off their dockets.  Federal Judges in particular have a reputation for such laziness.

So I’ll set up Landry with a quote from a lawyer that has tangled with Baker Donelson’s Monica Frois to get a flavor of how she is viewed by her peers: Continue reading “Menage a Frois law Firm Baker Donelson again exhibits blatantly unethical courtroom behavior a what else is new update”

From the Slabbed mail bag: Stop it Sop! You're making Mikey the Cook Cry!!

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney

Folks the Slabbed mailbag is the gift that keeps on giving today (besides Poldawg) as my last post on Jim Donelon and Mike Chaney aka Jimbo the Clown and Mikey the Cook has evidently hit close to home. 

I’ll freely admit the New Media is a concept that is mostly lost on career politicians and their entourage of political hacks and this despite the excellent advice dispensed by our friend Dambala at the American Zombie in early June. In any event I thought of Dambala’s post when I received this forward from our contact form: 

The fake picture with Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney with his head up his a.. is vulgar at best. Anonymous postings are cowardly – why don’t you have the guts to say Continue reading “From the Slabbed mail bag: Stop it Sop! You're making Mikey the Cook Cry!!”

Some friends are in the news today

Long Beach resident Kevin Buckel and United Policyholders executive director Amy Bach to be specific. Kevin’s website details his thus far fruitless pursuit of a statutory Policyholder Bill of Rights for Mississippians. It has been blocked in committee in the Senate by Sen. Eugene “Buck” Clarke, a GOP free market true believer over at the Big Rock Candy Mountain in Jackson.

We’ve also chronicaled Mr Buckel’s efforts at fostering transparency at the Mississippi Department of Insurance as he has taken our current Commish to court after the claims files used in the sham Market Conduct Study began under Mr Chaney’s predecessor turned insurance lobbyist George Dale as overseen by former Deputy Commish Lee Harrell who now works for State Farm law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz. Mr Chaney has thus far successfully stonewalled those efforts. Anita Lee picks up more recent events here:

A Coast policyholder is appealing to the state Supreme Court for access to Mississippi Insurance Department records that would show the dollar amount of Katrina claims denied by insurance companies.

Long Beach policyholder Kevin Buckel filed a written request in January 2009 for records showing the total amount of damages homeowners claimed, the total amount paid and the total amount denied by private property insurance companies. MID maintains the agency does not have the records.

United Policyholders of America is helping Buckel fund the appeal. Continue reading “Some friends are in the news today”

The ACC Bee Is Still In My Bonnet

ACC, the anti-concurrent cause issue, is burning up my head again. With health care insurance all the rage, it don’t hurt to remind ourselves how Big Insurance grew to be cracked-out body slammers. Most people don’t know that way back in 1945 the McCarran-Ferguson Act exempted Big Insurance (“Big-I”) from federal anti-trust law so long as long as the states “regulated” insurance. What a farce. Big-I and ISO hand out cash Tootsee Rolls to puppet commissioners and presto, before you know it, we’ve got regional, full-blown monopolies. Take health coverage: Wellpoint controls 71% of the Maine market; Blue Cross controls 90% of the North Dakota market and 100% of the Alabama market. All that said, keep your fingers crossed, the House Judiciary Committee (Senator Leahy) introduced an amendment to the health bill which would strip Big-I’s anti-trust exemption.

George Dale
George Dale

But, let’s revisit the magnolia ACC a minute. In prior posts, I talked about how Nationwide (probably with ISO’s help) quietly slipped the ACC into Mississippi in the ’80’s. By “slipped,” I mean they submitted a new policy form to the Commissioner for approval. Natch, it was instantly accepted. Recall, Mr Commissioner was indicted in ’94 for taking bribes from Big-I, but never went to trial. Undaunted, a mere 5 years later the legislative PEER committee caught him approving rate requests for State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide et al without any actuarial review. Over 380 rate requests, 59% of all, weren’t even looked at by actuaries.

MID Peer Report

Lee Harrell

  Some of you may recall that Dale’s deputy commissioner was the one who incessantly chatted with sycophantic law clerks overseeing Katrina, and probably caused the so-called “MID mediation plan” to be crammed down the throats of Katrina homeowners. Using Dale to the fullest, State Farm employed this sham mediation procedure to defraud hundreds and perhaps thousands of insureds. Evidence was produced showing State Farm staged the mediations in advance and actively concealed material evidence from homeowners during the “mediation” process. Continue reading “The ACC Bee Is Still In My Bonnet”

A Kuehn Prequel Courtesy of Anita Lee at the Sun Herald

To give our readers a look back at Kuehn and how State Farm made up the rules as they went along in how they adjusted claims after Katrina lets visit with Anita Lee and a story she wrote back in May of 2006 on the Kuehns battle to get State Farm to honor their own policy provisions. An interesting sideline is the fact the Farm used George Dale and his screwed up mediation program as the reason to deny a valid policy provision. The article still exists on the internet courtesy of CorpWatch:

State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. refuses to engage in the appraisal process to resolve Hurricane Katrina claims, even though its own policy mandates appraisal on demand when the amount of an insured loss is in dispute.

Instead, records show, the company is urging policyholders to settle disputes through a mediation program sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Insurance and funded by insurers.

Two attorneys, one who was personally denied appraisal and another whose clients have been turned down, think they know why.

“State Farm is just plundering and victimizing its policyholders in the mediation process,” said Ocean Springs attorney Earl Denham. “That’s why they’re doing this. If you get in the appraisal process, they’re not going to be able to do that because somebody else makes the decision.”

Denham represents Henry and June Kuehn of Ocean Springs, who asked State Farm about appraisal after the company offered them only $10,765.48, minus depreciation and deductible, to cover the wind damage to their waterfront home.

A woman who identified herself as Tina, in a State Farm catastrophe office, told Kuehn in a conversation he taped April 17: “That’s what our management is saying. We’re not offering appraisal at all because mediation overrides it.” Continue reading “A Kuehn Prequel Courtesy of Anita Lee at the Sun Herald”

What a surprise! Deputy Commissioner of MID joins law firm representing State Farm

The announcement in the Sun Herald  mentioned Deputy Commissioner of Insurance Lee Harrell was leaving the Department to join a law firm.

The Mississippi Insurance Department’s deputy commissioner, Lee Harrell, is leaving after 16 years to work for Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz law firm…Harrell spent most of his career under former Insurance Commissioner George Dale, who was defeated for re-election in 2007. Dale, the nation’s longest-serving commissioner, now works in the government relations department of Adams and Reese law firm.

Unlike Dale, Harrell is an attorney. He was unavailable for comment Wednesday. Chaney said Harrell will focus on insurance cases in his new job. Baker, Donelson represents insurance companies and policyholders…Harrell oversaw a market conduct study of State Farm after Dale’s departure. (emphasis added)

Chip Merlin connected the dots.

Anita Lee, of the Sun Herald, recently reported that the deputy insurance commissioner who “oversaw” the Mississippi Insurance Department’s Market Conduct Study of State Farm following Hurricane Katrina has left the Mississippi Department of Insurance. Guess who hired him? The lawyers who represent State Farm in Hurricane Katrina matters. Continue reading “What a surprise! Deputy Commissioner of MID joins law firm representing State Farm”