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!!”

What took you guys in Northbrook so long……

Nowdy sent me an email letting me know our friends from Northbrook Illinois have signed on to our twitter page. Now aside from publically calling for Tom Wilson’s resignation and calling Allstate’s Board of Directors “a band of idiots” for expertly assisting Mr Wilson in the destruction of shareholder value I have no idea why they would want to follow little ol’ us down here.  :-)

Layla sends her regards Tom. And Layla sweet, nice voice!

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Shall we dance? Magistrate Shushan invites Allstate and Pilot adjusting to the party – Order grants in-part Motion to Amend Complaint REVISED AND CORRECTED

Oops!  With an apology to Judge Vance and another to SLABBED readers, I have corrected my error and appropriately attributed the Order discussed in this post to Magistrate Shushan.

Magistrate Shushan’s autopsy-Order on the 2nd Amended Complaint filed by the Branch Consultants poses a new and entirely different challenge for reporting on an order issued in Branch –  turning a technical manual into a non-fiction novel.  In that context, Allstate is somewhat of a MacGuffin, “a plot element that catches the viewers’ attention…Commonly, though not always, the MacGuffin is the central focus of the film in the first act, and later declines in importance as the struggles and motivations of characters play out”.

Although Allstate is certain to be the “central focus” of public interest in the Order, it is important to note the Magistrate doesn’t know how this character will play out and her Order” is stayed until the District Judge resolves any appeal of the order”.   In that regard, a footnote in the Order is telling of the story at this point:

In support of it motion for leave to amend, Branch states:

To be clear, whether Allstate is entitled to immunity under the first-to-file provision of the False Claims Act is not at issue in this motion (for leave to amend), and Branch has not attempted to fully brief the issue here. Rather, what is at issue is merely whether Branch may amend its complaint to attempt to state a claim against Allstate.

The story of claims handling following Hurricane Katrina is more of a thriller than a typical mystery.  However, the Magistrate’s dénouement of the plot missed important clues and I momentarily digress from the discussion of Allstate’s role to examine her conclusion and related denial of the proposed incorporation of an inflated-revenue scheme.  Branch alleged a loss-shifting scheme in both the original and first amended complaint.

In her Order, Magistrate Shushan declared, “The loss-shifting and inflated-revenue motives create two entirely different schemes”.  I contend otherwise and suggest her decision indicates knowledge of the law can not overcome lack of experience with what “po’ folks” call “getting by” else she, too, would recognize the two are one in the same. 

On a much larger scale, the situation insurance companies faced after Katrina was similar.  Like those who can’t meet their obligations when faced with an unexpected cost, insurers employed strategies that delay payment of thousands of policyholder claims and made partial payment on thousands more in the guise of mediated settlements. However, they also engaged in a “broad scheme” to “get by” for reasons that have been well documented since Katrina such as investments that were worth less or worthless.  Continue reading “Shall we dance? Magistrate Shushan invites Allstate and Pilot adjusting to the party – Order grants in-part Motion to Amend Complaint REVISED AND CORRECTED”

Evidence of bad faith is not a trade secret or highly confidential as Slabbed welcomes back the insurance bastards from Liberty Mutual.

Courtesy of Mr Liberty Mutual: http://mrlibertymutual.com/

Folks we have proof positive that alittle Slabbin’ coupled with sunshine makes a difference as yesterday, Liberty Mutual filed a motion to seal the evidence that we presented Monday regarding a policyholder in New Orleans that Liberty Mutual had arrested simply because the policyholder dared to filed a claim for the wind damage that Liberty Mutual promised to cover in their homeowners policy but never did.   

Isn’t this so typical of a socially deviant corporate predator insurance company to behave badly and then try to shield their behavior from the public trying to designate their bullshit a trade secret or otherwise confidential. Unfortunately these criminals (and folks lets call this what it is) have enablers in the federal court system, usually in the form of former insurance defense lawyers that bought their way onto the court with the fortunes they made defending insurance companies while in private practice.

US Magistrate Robert Walker is such an example here in Mississippi and there is no shortage of such types in the Louisiana Eastern District such as Judge Kurt Engelhardt. These people provide insurers with the magic jurisdiction needed to hush up the bad behavior. Unfortunately Judge Vance’s Magistrate in Ex Rel Branch, Sally Sushan has proven herself  one such enabler. Is it any wonder that out here on Main Street the public’s confidence in getting a  fair shake out of our court system is at an all time low.

It is not lost on us that rather than protecting the cause of justice the federal court system instead protects the perpetrators with the use of seals and protective orders. Simply put our courts have sold out to the highest bidder and transparency has been sacrificed at the altar of money and greed.  Continue reading “Evidence of bad faith is not a trade secret or highly confidential as Slabbed welcomes back the insurance bastards from Liberty Mutual.”

Responsibility? Not the policy at Liberty Mutual. Hardball adjusting and litigation is more like it. Slabbed welcomes the insurance bastards from Massachusetts

Courtesy of Mr Liberty Mutual: http://mrlibertymutual.com/

My partner Nowdy is our resident law blogger and she has done a bang up job covering the insurance litigation here on Slabbed but a few evenings ago she sent me some documents from the Branch false claims act case that made my jaw drop. Operating under the assumption that a picture is worth a thousand words as Nowdy illustrated in her post Branch Consultants file Rock(well) solid opposition to Protective Order – explain why Walker’s Order won’t protect State Farm’s a$$ in Rigsby qui tam, I’ve embedded Exhibit 2 from the Branch reply on Motion to Compel Exhibit 2, Docket #238.  The documented wind damage to the house at 7441 Fieldstone Road in New Orleans begins on page 3: 

[scribd id=27241471 key=key-p6y6z8tgm0dpla6to48] 

So folks if we can all agree on the obvious wind damage and before I get to the portion of the pleading which is the topic of this post we need to visit with the former Liberty Mutual employee who now goes by the nom de guerre Mr Liberty Mutual: Continue reading “Responsibility? Not the policy at Liberty Mutual. Hardball adjusting and litigation is more like it. Slabbed welcomes the insurance bastards from Massachusetts”

Nowdy, our friend Amy over at United Policyholders has given Slabbed a promotion. :-)

Folks we’re honored to be listed on the main United Policyholders resource page. We’ve grown beyond just Katrina though we remain committed to getting every Katrina case home. Next up for me is Liberty Mutual where a fiduciary responsibiity is not in their WYO policy. Don’t take it from me though, just ask one of their former employees who has seen the Slab and linked us.

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qui tam Olympics: Branch throws javelin to protect Disclosure Statement; Rigsbys got speared when Judge Walker gave their Disclosure to State Farm in the McIntosh case!

“Sharing of information between the Government and the relator does not waive either the attorney-client privilege or the work product protections.” FALSE CLAIMS ACT:  WHISTLEBLOWER LITIGATION, §9-4(a)(5), attached as Ex. 1.

Well, hell’s bells! The Branch Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Compel delivered a tutorial on disclosure on a silver platter with Exhibit 1 as the rose!

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has now expressly ruled that information shared between the relator, his counsel and the United States is protected from discovery by the joint-prosecutorial privilege.  The joint prosecutorial privilege is the Government/relator counterpart to the recognized joint defense or common interest privilege. It is grounded in the language of the False Claims Act itself which empowers the relator to bring the action “in the name of the Government” and awards the relator a percentage of the proceeds recovered by the United States.  Such statutory language make clear Congress’ intent to align the interest of the Government with that of the relator.

By law, a whistleblower must file the qui tam Complaint under seal.  However, the Complaint is but one of the two documents a whistleblower must file.  The other is an evidentiary disclosure.  I learned that reading the law journal article authored by Tony DeWitt,  the Rigsbys’ former counsel:

Although the filing of the document is jurisdictional and the Act requires that one be filed, it is important to remember that the purpose of the filing is to make the government aware of what evidence the relator has, and what other evidence might be available should it decide to intervene in the case.

Little wonder then that Branch’s opposition states “the written disclosure statements comprise… counsel’s mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, and legal theories, they constitute opinion work product and are not discoverable.”  Conversely, in Rigsby, Continue reading “qui tam Olympics: Branch throws javelin to protect Disclosure Statement; Rigsbys got speared when Judge Walker gave their Disclosure to State Farm in the McIntosh case!”

Judge Vance has her Reasons – orders Nielsen to dance with Branch; band is playing fraud

Qui tam plaintiffs move to strike Fidelity’s Third-Party Complaint against its policyholders… Because Fidelity’s claims do not meet the appropriate standard under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and because third-party practice is considerably restricted in False Claims Act actions, the motion is GRANTED.

With 24-pages of Reasons supporting her Order, no one can call Judge Sarah Vance a party pooper for turning  down Nielsen’s “morally correct” [sic] Third Party Demand.

Fidelity has filed an answer to Branch’s complaint, and this answer includes a complaint asserting claims against third parties.1 R. Doc. 247. Specifically, Fidelity, acting in its “fiduciary capacity” as a “fiscal agent of the United States,” brings claims against certain of its own policyholders for breach of contract and unjust enrichment, as well as the common-law doctrine of payment by mistake. Fidelity proposes to sue those Fidelity policyholders whose property adjustments Branch put in issue in its complaint against Fidelity. Fidelity alleges that, if Branch proves that Fidelity overpaid its policyholders, these policyholders improperly received payments that are rightfully the property of the United States government.

In a footnote, Judge Vance point out, “These claims are brought by Fidelity only. None of the other defendants has brought a similar complaint against its own policyholders or has filed support for Fidelity’s.”  Surprisingly, however, Judge Vance goes no further.  Since she once again demonstrates mastery of a broad range of controlling decisions in discussing the Reasons for denial of Fidelity’s motion, the obvious assumption is she elected to spare the Company’s counsel, Gerald Nielsen, the embarrassment of revealing his apparent failure to read the Maurstad memo:

FEMA will not seek reimbursement from the company when a subsequent review identifies overpayments resulting from the company’s proper use of the FEMA depth data and a reasonable method of developing square foot value in concluding claims.

According to Nielsen, “Currently, virtually every major participant “Write-Your-Own Program” (“WYO”) insurance company in the NFIP utilizes Nielsen Law Firm, L.L.C. to handle its NFIP-related litigation on a national basis”  In that case, the embarrassment he was spared could just as easily been that his motion was an admission by omission.  In other words, Fidelity Fidelity did not properly use “the FEMA depth data and a reasonable method of developing square foot value”.

Whatever grace Nielsen was extended, however, was short-lives when Vance began the discussion of his motion on its merits: Continue reading “Judge Vance has her Reasons – orders Nielsen to dance with Branch; band is playing fraud”

Catching up with the news. Barney Frank threatens the NFIP with the nuclear option. Slabbed provides the analysis.

Representative Barney Frank is one of those Democrats that has been demonized by right wing ideologues for years so it is not surprising the man is so roundly hated in the Gulf South. One of the first openly gay members of Congress, Representative Frank has been a convenient target for the social-tolerance challenged souls that make up the right-wing of the GOP. He has also gone out of his way trying to help the people of the Gulf Coast by tirelessly championing Gene Taylor’s multiperil bill HR 1264 in the US House of Representatives. From our perspective here at Slabbed he is also his own man, one of a group of congressmen that is not owned by special interests and despite the importance of the committee Frank chairs to the Wall Street crowd he stands in stark contrast to soon to be former $enator ¢hris Dodd who is wholly owned by Wall Street interests. It is from that perspective that I write this post which includes some insight from our sources in the capitol along with some conjecture from the Slabbed editorial board. Let’s begin with this Arthur Postal report from the National Underwriter:

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, wants another House committee to take jurisdiction over the troubled and controversial National Flood Insurance Program.

A spokesman for the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) voiced “skepticism” over Mr. Frank’s comments, saying he doesn’t see how “switching committee jurisdictions will adequately address the underlying problem, which is that Congress needs to set for itself a reasonable schedule to consider a comprehensive NFIP reform bill that includes a five-year reauthorization.” Continue reading “Catching up with the news. Barney Frank threatens the NFIP with the nuclear option. Slabbed provides the analysis.”