In short Order – Judge Vance issues Order and Reasons with a few suggestions for Branch qui tam defendants

While Liberty Mutual’s and Standard Fire’s motions to sever have been pending, the Branch docket has had a severe case motion sickness.  Judge Vance offered the cure in short order in what is a really short Order denying both motions as “premature”.

A typical Sarah Vance Order is detailed and lengthy – and this one is neither.  When I read it the first time, I thought it would just take a few minutes to compose this post; but, then, I read it again and that was hours ago and this is my fourth sentence.  Obviously, I’ve done more thinking than writing.  Is it short and lacking in detail because it would be “premature” to say more or is she deliberately guarded?

She gives only one reason for denying the two motions to sever:

There appear to be at least one or more common issues of law or fact in this action that warrant consolidation under Rule 42 of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, at least in the pretrial phase of this case. See FED. R. CIV. P. 42(a) (“If actions before the court involve a common question of law or fact, the court may . . . consolidate the actions.”).

The reason is followed by what I’d call “passing mention” of several “common issues of law or fact”: Continue reading “In short Order – Judge Vance issues Order and Reasons with a few suggestions for Branch qui tam defendants”

chain, chain, chain of fools – Liberty Mutual’s and Standard Fire’s motions to break chain and sever from Branch defendants

Aretha I’m not but a chain of fools I can spot –  and, despite their claims to the contrary, there’s no weak link between either Liberty Mutual or Standard Fire and the other Branch defendants.  I will concede, however, both companies rattle the chain more than most.  In fact, they make so much noise that I would have missed the motions to sever each filed in January had the two defendants not recently filed motions for leave to Reply to the Branch Response in Opposition to their motions..

Apparently, I’m not the only one who ignored the rattling and moved on.  While both argue against being joined with other defendants, the two companies are obviously joined in a defense strategy to sever.  Each requested a hearing on its motion on the same day, the 3nd of February, a date that passed without a response from the Court.  Perhaps, I’m not the only one these two links in the “chain” didn’t fool.

The WYO Accounting Procedures Manual, Exhibit 1 to the Branch Opposition brief, documents the link. Liberty Mutual makes a foolish attempt to fool the Count by claiming Branch “espouses a new theory of liability” by arguing “the defendants’ unauthorized/fraudulent use of the DHHS PMS” as sufficient to “satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a)(2)’s requirement that the right to relief against joined defendants must arise out of the same series of transactions or occurrences”.

Surely, neither defendant expects the Court to believe its company does not have to use the established NFIP procedures and system to file flood claims!  The word games these two companies are playing is based on the same flawed analysis of policyholder claims data used to justify streamlined or steamrolled procedures.

Granted, each claim represents a different property and all that claim handling entails. However, the Feldman procedures erred because the number one insurer’s claims are to the total number of claims is a reliable indicator of nothing other than the calculated percentage.  Likewise, the number of exemplary claims Branch cited for a single defendant insurer is not a statistically reliable indicator of the extent of the alleged fraud.  The Branch opposition brief picks up from there: Continue reading “chain, chain, chain of fools – Liberty Mutual’s and Standard Fire’s motions to break chain and sever from Branch defendants”