What’s up? What’s going down? – a quick look around at Katrina litigation

Let’s start with this update on Rigsby qui tam defendant Forensic Engineering (FAEC).  At last mention, Forensic had not obtained substitute counsel and Judge Walker had denied current counsel’s motion to withdraw. setting an April 2 deadline for submission of the Company’s designation of experts.   What’s up includes FAEC’s Joinder and Designation of Experts:

(“Forensic”)…joins in the Supplemental Combined Expert Disclosure…and Supplemental Expert Disclosures…filed by State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (“State Farm”) in this matter, to the extent applicable to Plaintiffs’ claims against Forensic.

Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 (a)(2), Forensic also designates John B. Kelly, P.E., as one of their experts. John B. Kelly is a Principal Structural Engineer that will opine that all the engineering reports and revised engineering reports were true and correct, and done in accordance with sound scientific/engineering principles and observation of the conditions at the site.

Forensic, of course, “reserves the right to call any expert listed, designated or called by any other Party” – and it’s safe to say there will be witnesses that offer a view contrary to that of Kelly.

What’s going down? It seems the Easter Bunny joined Santa Clause and the O’Keefe’s have now reached a settlement in Dancel Group, Inc. et al v. United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company et al in addition to the settlement of O’Keefe v State Farm, announced in the SLABBED post that published Christmas Eve.

What’s up with Kuehn v State Farm? Hard to tell, frankly.  In the Christmas Eve catch-all linked above, SLABBED reported the what the Kuehn’s Counsel, Earl Denham, wanted to go down.

If it occurs to you and to State Farm to do the right thing by the Kuehns, instead of the strategic thing, which you have attempted through this cynical, tardy tender, then why don’t you engage in meaningful and realistic negotiations to settle my clients’ damages instead of continuing at the Kuehns’ expense in trying to redirect the law of appraisal in Mississippi? We stand ready, as we have always been, to engage you in good faith.

What Denham got in return for his offer of “good faith” was the legal equivalent of ashes and switches, an Offer of Judgment on the 20th of January – and today State Farm filed another.  Continue reading “What’s up? What’s going down? – a quick look around at Katrina litigation”

Scrooges and Stooges – State Farm attorneys pack the sleigh!

More rapid than eagles these coursers they came

Scrooges and Stooges that went straight to work

Filling stockings with motions and giving justice a jerk!

Katrina insurance litigation is beginning to not look at lot like Christmas – even when State Farm slips in a check.  Take Kuehn v State Farm, for example.  Anita Lee reported State Farm pays up, but argues award was in error in Monday’s Sun Herald:

State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. recently paid a couple $179,100.31 for Katrina damage, but their attorney said the check came too late to save Henry and June Kuehn’s Cove Place home.

Attorney Earl Denham said the two-story house further deteriorated as the Kuehns awaited settlement of their insurance claim. The city of Ocean Springs wants the property cleaned up.

U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. ordered the Katrina payment in August, but State Farm has asked him to reconsider the ruling.

“This amount is tendered without recourse, but with the understanding that this is not an admission of an amount owed,” said a letter sent with the check by State Farm attorney Scot Spragins of Oxford. “Given the circumstances, State Farm has decided to make this tender to eliminate the threatened destruction of the Kuehns’ home.

“State Farm intends to continue to litigate the issue. In the event that we are successful and it is determined that these sums are not owed, then State Farm will not seek reimbursement.”

Denham replied the next day: Continue reading “Scrooges and Stooges – State Farm attorneys pack the sleigh!”

What’s the score? No, not the Saints game, I know they won – I’m talkin’ Katrina litigation and then some

So, what’s up besides the Saints? Well, for starters there’s the trial of Bossier v State Farm that got underway yesterday after the jury was seated mid-afternoon.  The grapevine reported there was time for opening statements (with no personal commentary re: Bossier’s motion in limine) and one witness before Court ended for the day.   The second day began at 10am and hopefully I’ll get another grapevine report or there will be something in the Sun Herald.

State Farm filed an an 11th hour trial brief, but  an interesting one nonetheless, that sets forth the Company’s position on the meaning of the Corban decision:

State Farm anticipates that Plaintiff at trial may attempt to satisfy his burden of proof merely by pointing to the totality of damage to his house at the conclusion of Hurricane Katrina. Continue reading “What’s the score? No, not the Saints game, I know they won – I’m talkin’ Katrina litigation and then some”

Catching up on Katrina litigation

With a lot of catching up to squeeze in a single post, I’ll jump right in and start with Bossier v State Farm as the trial starts in just a few days.  Judge Senter tied up all the loose ends with two orders issued last Friday.  First up is his Order granting in part Bossier’s only motion in limine.

Plaintiff’s Motion in Limine addresses three subjects: the admissibility of evidence surrounding Plaintiff’s receipt of a Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) grant and a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) arising from the Hurricane Katrina loss which is the subject of this cause of action; the interjection of personal comments by counsel for the Defendant during voir dire; and a letter from one of Defendant’s employees unconditionally tendering a check to Plaintiff for the payment of dwelling extension coverage under the insurance policy at issue here. Continue reading “Catching up on Katrina litigation”

Judge Starrett on State Farm Fire and State Farm Mutual – a distinction without a difference

Amazing, is it not, that Judge Walker could find no reason to lawfully deny Burger’s motion to file an amended complaint; yet, Judge Ozerden had no problem finding a reason to deny O’Keefe’s:

State Farm Fire maintains that there is a suggestion of bad faith in Plaintiffs’ attempt to add State Farm Mutual, and that allowing Plaintiffs to amend their Complaint to add this Defendant would result in undue delay and would be futile…The Fifth Circuit has interpreted “futility” in the amended pleading context to mean that an amended complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted…

Clearly Judge Ozerden sees a distinction between State Farm Fire and State Farm Mutual. However, his collegue Judge Starrett has declared it a distinction without a difference:

General Hood made some effort to distinguish State Farm Mutual Automobile Company, a mutual insurance company, from State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, a stock insurance company.  The Court believes this to be a distinction without a difference, since all of the stock in the stock company is in fact owned by the mutual company.

Judge Starrett’s opinion on the relationship between State Farm Mutual and State Farm Fire is found in his Order of recusal, entered in State Farm v  Hood (October 10, 2007).

Hood’s position is understandable with a look at the settlement agreement at issue in the injunction State Farm obtained in Starrett’s court prior to his recusal.

agreement 2

Note the Settlement Agreement is specific to Hood’s case against defendant  State Farm Fire! Continue reading “Judge Starrett on State Farm Fire and State Farm Mutual – a distinction without a difference”

And a Happy Hump day to you too Editilla

Nowdy has some killer stuff in the pipeline and if I can get a spare second I’ll be jumping in with a post on O’Keefe v State Farm. Seems as if Lecky is fixing to get an invite and the Farm wants to keep her testimony a secret. Here is a hint for our mentally challenged Magistrate Judge Robert Walker. All the insurers used McKinsey to develop their bad faith claims handling procedures. The systematic commission of the tort of Insurance Bad Faith is not a trade secret.

So while our readers wait on content here on Slabbed, I highly recommend surfing the links over on the Ladder. We’re blessed to have such good cyber friends. And Lecky, this Youtube vid is for you boubie: Continue reading “And a Happy Hump day to you too Editilla”

party games – State Farm plays spin the bottle with O’Keefe v State Farm – Magistrate Judge Anderson takes a spin that kisses Mutual and brings it in

Both O’Keefe and State Farm began this past week with significant motions in play.  On Monday, SLABBED published It’s going to happen, a post on State Farm’s opposition to O’Keefe’s motion requesting reconsideration of the Court’s decision denying the plaintiffs’ request to include State Farm Mutual as a defendant.

Meanwhile, another dispute was taking place off-docket

Simply stated, the number  of discovery requests each party would be allowed to serve – a matter the Court decided this past July – or so it thought became a party game to State Farm.  A reading of the related briefs and orders indicates it became a game of spin the bottle.

Spin the bottle. Land on the issue driving O’Keefe’s motion to alter and/or amend the findings of the Court’s judgment re: No one knows what goes on behind closed doors:

Plaintiffs respectfully submit that, in light of the facts placed before the Court in support of Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to amend to add State Farm Mutual as a party Defendant…

Spin the bottle. Land on the claim made in State Farm’s opposition linked in the post It’s going to happen:

There is simply no legitimate purpose to add State Farm Mutual to this lawsuit and there is certainly no ground to reconsider the Court’s September 3, 2009 order. (emphasis added)

Spin the bottle. Land somewhere previously not mentioned on SLABBED – National Association of State Farm Agents v State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company: Continue reading “party games – State Farm plays spin the bottle with O’Keefe v State Farm – Magistrate Judge Anderson takes a spin that kisses Mutual and brings it in”

It’s going to happen – update on O’Keefe v State Farm

Time and again, the Courts of the Southern District have found that State Farm Mutual does not belong in the lawsuits challenging State Farm Fire’s handling of Hurricane Katrina insurance claims…

slide_2747_38345_largeThat certainly is true; however, the Court made an error.  On the other hand,  some say the day the Court corrects an error of this magnitude will  be the day pigs fly – but, according to the Huffington Post, that day has come.

Judge Ozerden, obviously, did not believe pigs could fly when he wrote, It will not be acceptable for Plaintiff to treat “State Farm” collectively in any future pleadings…(Bridgewater v State Farm) without thinking to check and learning that State Farm treat[s] ‘State Farm’ collectively. Continue reading “It’s going to happen – update on O’Keefe v State Farm”

no one knows what goes on behind closed doors but O’Keefe wants to open the door to State Farm Mutual and find out!

TEXT ONLY ORDER denying Plaintiffs’ request for a hearing on their Motions to Amend and to Expedite. The Court, in its discretion, does not find that oral argument would be necessary or helpful in deciding the Motions. Pursuant to Uniform Local Rule 7.2(F)(1), the Court shall decide Plaintiffs’ Motions without a hearing or oral argument. NO FURTHER WRITTEN ORDER WILL ISSUE FROM THE COURT REGARDING THIS REQUEST. Signed by District Judge Halil S. Ozerden on 9/2/2009. (EMN) (Entered: 09/02/2009)

Oh, no-one knows what goes on behind closed doors. Behind closed doors.

The next day, Judge Ozerden issued an Order granting in-part O’Keefe’s Motion to file an amended complaint.  O’Keefes counsel, Christopher Van Cleave, was sitting on ready and the day after Ozerden’s Order issued, he filed a Motion to Alter or Amend the Findings and/or Judgment of the Court; for a New Trial on and/or Seeking Relief from the Court’s Order...

First, a look at the Order – and be sure to read the feeling is Mutual – and so is the fact for background on the issue and a look at the chart showing the relationship of State Farm Mutual to State Farm Fire.

…the Court is of the opinion that Plaintiffs’ Motion should be granted to the extent that it seeks to amend Plaintiffs’ claims against the existing Defendants in this case.

The remaining question is whether Plaintiffs should be permitted to amend their Complaint to add an additional Defendant, State Farm Mutual. State Farm Fire maintains…that allowing Plaintiffs to amend their Complaint to add this Defendant would result in undue delay and would be futile.

Obviously, behind closed doors, Ozerden directed his attention to State Farm’s claims of futility.  The irony was lost and he included a relatively lengthy discussion of futility in his Order before toeing the parte line: Continue reading “no one knows what goes on behind closed doors but O’Keefe wants to open the door to State Farm Mutual and find out!”

SLABBED Daily – July 10 (keeping score #2)

Yesterday was a big day for Nationwide litigation.  Take a look at what settled!

O’Bannon et al v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company et al closed 07/09/09

Hartman v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company et al  closed 07/09/09

Williams et al v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company et al  closed 07/09/09

You’d think if they settled O’Bannon…oh, well, maybe Nationwide just wants to let the jury write Mrs. Politz check.

Yesterday was a busy day, but not a big day, for State Farm.  TEXT ONLY orders were issued yesterday in two of the State Farm cases SLABBED is following: Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – July 10 (keeping score #2)”