And to think Eric Paulsen had an insurance case against State Farm we somehow missed….

This pleading came to me captioned Gates – Best Pleading Ever and in a strange slabbed sort of way it is as we find an example of a plaintiffs lawyer doing some of the sleazy things we’ve come to expect from State Farm lawyers like our old friend Scot Spragins of Kuehn infamy. Best of all it allows me to roll out some of Eric’s off air friends like Shane (D’Antoni) Gates and Danny Abel. To wit:

First, Plaintiff and Shane Gates (also known as Shane L. D’Antoni) are creditor/mortgagee and debtor/mortgagor on the very property as issue in this lawsuit, 56345 McManus Road in Slidell, Louisiana. 2 Thus when Baumgartner questioned Plaintiff at his deposition regarding his “unusual relationship” with Gates and why Gates seemed to be living at the McManus Road Property, Plaintiff’s reply that “Gates made a few mortgage payments” for Plaintiff has a whole new set of implications in light of the unearthing of the Bond for Deed, a transaction that has never been disclosed to State Farm or its counsel during the adjustment and lawsuit over this claim.3 Certainly in Plaintiff’s position as creditor/seller to Gates of the McManus Property, Plaintiff could have produced Gates for deposition and clearly knew at the outset when initial disclosures and discovery was made that Gates would be a witness in these proceedings. Continue reading “And to think Eric Paulsen had an insurance case against State Farm we somehow missed….”

Chip Merlin’s Gulf Coast case law update provides context for SLABBED update on recent developments in selected Katrina cases UPDATED

Merlin lived up to his name when, like the magician, he pulled this list of case law out of his hat, so to speak, and posted it on his blog last week – providing the context  for an update on several cases we’ve followed on SLABBED.  Case law was the focus of Merlin’s presentation at a recent Windpool Conference session for adjusters and the listed cases are those expected to “affect those adjusting claims in Gulf Coast areas outside of Florida”:

A second listing of related “practical points” followed and included, among others, two of particular interest: Continue reading “Chip Merlin’s Gulf Coast case law update provides context for SLABBED update on recent developments in selected Katrina cases UPDATED”

Pinocchio’s nose – State Farm Protective Orders

There are more SLABBED posts and comments on State Farm Protective Orders that I care to count on a weekend; but, it should go without saying there has been no “good cause” for any to be favorable.

Good cause simply can’t be because I said so unless it’s said by your mother – and Judge Walker is not anyone’s mother.

The Court, being duly advised in the premises, finds that good causes exists for the issuance of a Protective Order, it is therefore…

06 2 letter to Walker

Since the Rules require good cause to be established, there had to be a case that Judge Walker was “duly advised” of the “premise” before he started routinely granting protective orders – or so I naively thought until I read the letter from Hickman Goza Spragins to Judge Walker a second time before closing the Pontius file of exhibits to Stephan Hinkle’s deposition testimony.

State Farm operational guides and training materials have been consistently found to be protected trade secrets by other courts. Hamilton v State Farm Mutual Auto Ins.,Co 204 F.R.D. 420, 423-25 (S.D.lnd. 2001)

At the time the letter was written to Judge Walker, there must have been only two cases with Protective Orders to list: Loehn v State Farm and Cooney v State Farm.  Plaintiffs in both cases were represented by Charles A. Boggs of the Metairie, Louisiana firm of Boggs Loehn Rodrique. Continue reading “Pinocchio’s nose – State Farm Protective Orders”

How hot is the hot spot for Rigsby qui tam?

Really hot – and much larger than the hot spot identified here and here – if Derek Wyatt’s 30(b)(6) deposition of Stephan Hinkle in Pontius v State Farm is considered:

FireShot capture #024 - 'Popps Ferry Rd, Biloxi, Harrison, Mississippi to 1982 Bayside Dr, Biloxi, MS 39532 - 2
Area identified in quoted text from 30(b)(6) deposition of Stephan Hinkle (A - C) shown with location of McIntosh (D) and Bossier property (E)

I actually was in Biloxi when I wrote…[the Wind-Water Protocol]… And I had done — Iwent out and saw the damage, basically, and saw the — well, the first area I went to when I was there was right near this claim office on Pops Ferry Road in Biloxi (Location A). There’s this development called Destiny Plantation. (Location C) It’s right on the back bay of Biloxi. And I had occasion to drive down there. And I — there, I comprehended the nature of the damage, is what made me kind of outline in my mind how to do this.

But the gate to Destiny Plantation is on Brody Road (Location B), which is about a half a mile inland from the shore. You go in the gate and there was no damage whatsoever to the homes immediately  around the gate. You take the road south toward the bay, and immediately you notice where the water stopped. And by the time you get down to the bay itself, the homes that were built were totally destroyed. They were slab homes. Which indicated to me that we’ve got a situation here.

How many other hot spots were there given the estimated number of  State Farm policyholders with dual coverage Hinkle provided applied to the flooded areas of all three coastal counties and not just this one area in Biloxi?

BY MR. WYATT:

Q. Okay. Before I get too far afield, I want to remember where we started, but you mentioned something yesterday. Mississippi had about 80,000 P&C Katrina claims. Continue reading “How hot is the hot spot for Rigsby qui tam?”

Henry and June and the Topic of State Farm’s Cancerous Claims Handling: A Kuehn v State Farm Update (Updated)

Far from the claims handling equivalent of this literary masterpiece, the case of Kuehn v State Farm has more twists, turns and legal perversions than Anaïs Nin’s book on the writing of that literary masterpiece.  We’ve presented this case on Slabbed in part to highlight the bad faith methods State Farm, with the help of the Mississippi Department of Insurance, utilized to  adjust their slab claims on the coast after Katrina. Kuehn was also of interest because it gave us a chance to also highlight the type of lawyer State Farm uses to abuse the process in the proverbial “hired gun lawyer” in this case Oxford Mississippi based lawyers Scot Spragins and Lucky Tucker. On Monday of this week Nowdy profiled the fine mess the dufuses found themselves in after the plaintiff’s lawyer Earl Denham made them his beetchlaurel and hardy. Anita Lee covered the evidentiary hearing and frankly it doesn’t look good for Spragins or Tucker as State Farm had to take one for the team to save their hides (from being DQ’d as counsel) in the process laying bare their sleazy claims practices and the type of lawyer that will do anything (and I mean anything) to get on State Farm’s legal gravy train.

State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. argued in federal court Wednesday that the company should not have to pay policyholders $174,811.80 for Katrina damage attributed to wind because an umpire and two appraisers who set the amount strayed into determining the cause of loss.

State Farm policies give policyholders the option of appraisal when “the amount of the loss” is in dispute. Under Mississippi law, U.S. District Court Judge L.T. Senter Jr. has already ruled, appraisal is not meant to decide liability. State Farm polices cover wind damage, but loss from water is covered by federal flood insurance.

However, attorneys for policyholders Henry and June Kuehn of Ocean Springs presented evidence that only wind damage was considered during the appraisal process.

As provided under the policy, each side selected an appraiser and an umpire was appointed to resolve any disputes.

State Farm’s appraiser, John Minor, testified that only those damages above the water line were included in the appraisal award. The water line reached 2 feet onto the second floor of the Kuehn home.

Minor said a State Farm attorney who had offered confusing advice during the appraisal process was not happy with the result.

“I got chewed out,” Minor said.

He said he handled the Kuehn appraisal in the same way he did others for State Farm, but the attorney, Lawrence J. “Lucky” Tucker Jr., seemed to want the Kuehn appraisal handled differently. Continue reading “Henry and June and the Topic of State Farm’s Cancerous Claims Handling: A Kuehn v State Farm Update (Updated)”

Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into – Kuehn files Motion in limine to exclude Spragins and Tucker

laurel and hardy

Plaintiffs would show that any testimony that may be offered by Defendant’s counsel, H. Scot Spragins or Lawrence J. Tucker, should be prohibited and/or excluded. State Farm previously stated…that “State Farm’s counsel is not the only source of the information Plaintiffs seek. Moreover, any information they possesses [sic] is not relevant or crucial to the central issues in this case, i.e., the actual conduct of the appraisal and the propriety of the award.”

Of course, if Tucker and Spragins did have pertinent information, they and their law firm would be properly disqualified as counsel. However, based on State Farm’s representations, this Court denied (without prejudice) Plaintiffs’ Motion to Disqualify Counsel. Because Plaintiffs were thus disallowed from taking the testimony of Spragins and Tucker, they cannot now be allowed to come forward and testify in the evidentiary hearing scheduled before this Court on July 22, 2009…

SLABBED first reported the “fine mess” created by Spragins and Tucker Continue reading “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into – Kuehn files Motion in limine to exclude Spragins and Tucker”

Double Trouble Doubled Down – Kuehn v State Farm

Remember the Kuehn’s of Double Trouble Kuehn v State Farm?

On February 28, 2008, the appraisal process concluded, and the umpire and the parties’ appraisers signed an Award setting forth the appraisal amount of $174,811.80…counsel for State Farm Fire told the appraisers and the umpire that the Award did not specify which part was for wind…the appraisers and umpire rewrote the Award to indicate that the entire amount was for wind damage.

Well, I ran into their case when I was looking at recent filings and decided to take a look and see how things were going.

We left them back in February shortly after Counsel for Plaintiffs learned during the deposition of State Farm’s designated appraiser, John Minor, on or about February 6, 2009, that counsel for State Farm will be, at the very least, necessary and material witnesses in this action. Counsel for State Farm recognized this fact and the deposition was halted.

John Banahan had just stepped in as new counsel for State Farm and requested an extension on the period of discovery on the appraisal issue until March 31 that would move the deadline for motions back to mid-April.

What happened between then and now would be easier to explain if this case had not bounced between state and federal court twice since  Hurricane Katrina. Wait, I take that back!  Let’s take a closer look at this case.

Hurricane Katrina ravaged their insured property, causing destruction to the structure and its contents.  On September 27, 2005 an adjuster for State Farm inspected the property.  The time line and documents that follow tell the story.

January 4, 2006
State Farm Fire…informed Plaintiffs that it would not cover the loss beyond what was already paid, which was $10,765.48.pages-from-kuehn-v-state-farm-41

April I, 2006 Continue reading “Double Trouble Doubled Down – Kuehn v State Farm”