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”

Head-scratching news you can use

First up, the Clarion Ledger reports Funding for Coast hurricane evacuation highway lacking:

A proposal to build a hurricane evacuation highway on the Mississippi Coast has been shelved because of a lack of funding, a transportation official says.

Next, two hurricane-related insurance articles from the Sun Herald starting with USAA says company still writing policies on Coast – “But riskiest customers being dropped”:

Some USAA policyholders are under the impression that the insurance company is no longer offering wind coverage in the three Coast counties, but a company spokesman said Friday that is not true…

The company also is retaining wind coverage already included in 1,200 existing policies in the six South Mississippi counties. Berry was unable to say Friday how many of those policies are in the three Coast counties…Chaney said MID has no authority to prohibit insurance companies from establishing coverage boundaries. Other major carriers have withdrawn coverage from waterfront areas, forcing policyholders into the state wind pool, insurer of last resort for South Mississippians.

Last, but certainly no less newsworthy, 3 Coast insurance bills alive at Capitol:

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, insurers’ denials of storm-damage claims, rising premiums and insurance companies pulling out of South Mississippi made news. Since then, Coast lawmakers have been pushing for a number of changes to Mississippi insurance law.

Coast-backed insurance measures have often died in the Senate Insurance Committee…Sen. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis…said…“It appears that no insurance reforms will be given consideration under our current Senate Insurance Committee chairman.”

Now, summarizing the news you can use: (1) the state has no money for an alternate evacuation route; (2) a private insurer can cheery pick coverage areas and drop its high-risk policies on the state’s tab because MID lacks the authority to establish coverage boundaries but has money to pay the tab; and (3) the Legislature isn’t going to pass regulations to reduce the tab and apply the savings to funding a more efficient evacuation route.

If that doesn’t make you scratch your head, the Sun Herald story lists and links the three bills still alive: Continue reading “Head-scratching news you can use”

Happy New Year from USAA – company dropping wind coverage for policyholders on the Coast

Yesterday’s Sun Herald reported USAA”s New Year’s greeting – Anita Lee had the story:

USAA, the property insurance company for active military and military retirees, plans to discontinue wind and hail coverage for at least 1,150 Coast policyholders, the Mississippi Insurance Department confirmed Wednesday.

A 45-year policyholder with USAA alerted the Sun Herald that the insurance company had notified him by mail his wind and hail would be discontinued when his policy expires in late February.

John Wells of MID said he called USAA and confirmed coverage would be dropped for some Coast customers after two policyholders called him. Wells said both customers who called him were within 1,000 feet of the waterfront. The boundary for wind and hail cutoff was unclear, Wells said.

USAA did not immediately return telephone calls from the Sun Herald about the notifications to policyholders.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said MID is working with a couple of companies interested in entering the Coast insurance market, including one company that would write wind policies.

Reader comments were insightful:

In 2005, I had been a USAA customer for 49 years! When I called and told the claim dept that my home was completely gone to the ground, I was told that I would be getting a full 100% policy payment (well into 6 figures) We didn’t hear anything for several weeks, and since we were too busy trying to find stuff and recover, we didn’t think to call back. When we realized we didn’t have a mailbox anymore,we again called to let them know we hadn’t received a check or seen an adjuster. That is when we were told that they had not and would not send an adjuster as they had determined, apparently from a internet map, that it was all surge and we were not covered. We got nothing, zero, natta. Tried to sue and lost as a clause in the policy exempted surge. We wern’t in a flood zone so if it wasn’t for the grant, I don’t know what we would have done. Thanks to the Miss Grant program.

SLABBED add a “we-told-you-so” to this an other comments showing there were policyholders on the Coast denied coverage without consideration of the wind damage that preceeded the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina – and the government picked up the tab!

Any volunteers? Allstate asks Commissioner Chaney for hearing – but “good hands” don’t want his ear!

This past September SLABBED reported the Commissioner kept his promise when he denied Allstate’s request for a 44% rate increase this past September.  The Sun Herald is now reporting, Allstate Seeks Hearing on Rate Increase Denial:

Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Co.’s has requested a hearing on the denial of its 44 percent rate increase for Mississippi customers.  Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney tells The Sun Herald that he plans to schedule the hearing for some time in January. The Mississippi Insurance Department concluded in September the increase was unjustified, but Allstate argues it is warranted.

The commissioner usually hears appeals. Allstate has asked that Chaney appoint someone else because he already has stated he will not approve the increase without a court order. Allstate requested the rate hike in March, after Chaney had rejected the company’s request for a 65 percent increase. (emphasis added)

Chaney keeps his promise – denies Allstate rate increase!

In an order sent to Allstate, the commissioner said the company failed to justify its rate request and has filed requests for high increases since Katrina in 2005, possibly as a way to price itself out of the Mississippi market. “The upward spiral of rate increase requests since 2005 is indicative of Allstate’s move toward excessive rates in Mississippi,” the Insurance Department order denying the request said. “This commissioner cannot in good conscience approve the rate increase request in light of this information.”
Although neither the press release or the Commissioner’s order were found on a search of the MID website, the Clarion Ledger reported the denial and the Sun Herald published a more detailed story:

As promised, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney has rejected Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Co.’s request for a statewide rate hike of 44 percent…Allstate requested the rate hike in March, after Chaney had rejected the company’s request for a 65 percent increase…

The Sun Herald story makes several eye-catching points:
  • As previously reported on SLABBED,Allstate “had at least two law firms working on its rate filing, including a Jackson firm that employs Mississippi’s former top regulators, former Insurance Commissioner George Dale and Deputy Commissioner Lee Harrell”.

One less insurance problem – MID no longer has country-come-to-town website

If you have never searched tried to search for Katrina-related bulletins issued by the Mississippi Insurance Department, you won’t find the redesigned MID website big news.  I, on the other hand, have spend countless hours digging for documents on the old site and think it’s a major story.

Now that the Commission has an uptown website, he should be able to find all the documents he needs to get rates to start coming down.  Until then, if you’ve got a problem, you’ll find the   Complaint form at the top of the page.

View a screen shot of the new site is below the jump.h/t to the Commissioner and MID staff! Continue reading “One less insurance problem – MID no longer has country-come-to-town website”

Bad Faith Insurers Safeco (Liberty Mutual) and Republic coming to scam coast residents.

Courtesy of Mr Liberty Mutual:

Yesterday Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney was on cloud 9 floating over lala land as exhibited by his WLOX interview which covered the subjects of mitigation grants and Safeco.  From the interview it is clear he is sticking to his meme that he can foster competition in a small market in an industry with an anti trust exemption (the kool-aid the state republican leadership drinks must be powerful stuff). Our long time readers will no doubt remember Mr Chaney as the man whose State Farm Market Conduct examiner found massive evidence of wind claims dumping and bad faith claims practices in the sample results  while Mr Chaney ignored all that and attacked the two courageous women that exposed the practices (The analysis of the MID Market Conduct study by retired World Bank analyst turned law student James Barbieri is found beginning on page 10 of his thesis). Long suffering coast residents are not buying in as evidenced by the comments to Anita Lee’s coverage of Mr Chaney’s announcement and it is there we begin:

Safeco Insurance plans to offer wind coverage again, Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said Monday morning.

The company will offer 500 to 1,000 homeowner policies with wind coverage, he said, beginning in mid-March.

“They’re going to be selective about who they write, but I’m assuming as long as there’s not a credit risk involved, they’re not going to have any real restrictions,” Chaney said. Some companies have restricted wind coverage to the northern three Coast counties, but stopped offering it to new customers or nonrenewed policyholders who live near shore.

In doing some basic googling I found where the insurance bastards at Liberty Mutual bought Safeco in 2008. As a Liberty Mutual insured found out the hard way after Katrina’s winds severely damaged his house those thugs will have you arrested for simply filing a claim! Here at Continue reading “Bad Faith Insurers Safeco (Liberty Mutual) and Republic coming to scam coast residents.”

How about some grilled Commish for lunch? Mike Chaney admits his office is in over its head.

You bet he went to Biloxi to hold hands with the only major Mississippi newspaper to endorse him last election. The conversation as reported by the Sun Herald ace reporter Anita Lee is stunning in its implications beyond Nationwide’s intention to raise rates state wide:

Chaney also said that he and neighboring insurance commissioners have set up a private e-mail system to exchange information. Expertise on the state insurance staffs varies and money is short, so the commissioners lean on one another to help analyze financial information.

My suggestion is they lean harder. I don’t envy Mr Chaney, because he has Jimbo the Clown on the left and the joker on the right. Then again the commenting citizenry doesn’t seem to think much of our commish either. Well at least it inspired today’s music video.



…and the good news is premium growth slows – but Mississippi and Alabama still paying more for insurance

Post-Katrina homesite, Mobile Press Register

Jeff Amy covered both bases with similar stories in both the Pascagoula and Mobile editions of the Press RegisterAlabama homeowners, according to Army’s story, have gone from paying 10 percent less than the national average in 2002 to 10 percent more in 2007.

“Satisfied is probably not the right word, but we’re comfortable with where we are compared to the other coastal states,” said Alabama Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling.

Of course he’s comfortable,  look at what happened to the homeowners next door in Mississippithe State went from paying 13 percent more than the national average in 2002 to paying 24 percent more in 2007.

Mississippi’s not so comfortable Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney told Amy “Rates are going to continue to go up in Mississippi.”

Though the data isn’t in, Chaney said he thinks rates also rose in 2008 and 2009 because of increases granted in 2007 to Allstate and Nationwide. Continue reading “…and the good news is premium growth slows – but Mississippi and Alabama still paying more for insurance”

What a coincidence – State Farm files for 19% rate increase in Louisiana!

Table created with data from the Daily Comet

After MID awarded State Farm a 19.5% rate increase, the Company decided to forgo the shock ’em  first approach it brought from Florida Mississippi- …and the score in the State Farm game was 45-19.5…– and go with a 19% requested increase in Louisiana.

The Times-Picayune carried the AP story; but, hanging on Editilla’s Ladder was the more detailed story in the Daily Comet.

“State Farm, Louisiana’s largest homeowners insurer, has asked regulators for a 30 percent rate increase for policyholders in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

Coastal parishes would take the brunt of the proposed increases, which average 19.1 percent statewide.

The Louisiana Department of Insurance will consider the request, which could generate $67.6 million, or an average of about $229 per Louisiana policyholder. The company has about 296,000 policyholders in the state…”

This brings us to the part of the story where things start to go fuzzy, shall we say.  Continue reading “What a coincidence – State Farm files for 19% rate increase in Louisiana!”