Keeping score #3 – Who has the balls?

State Farm mischaracterizes as a “heavy burden” the standard of review applicable to this petition. As Plaintiff’s objections to the Magistrate’s order relate to matters of law, and not fact, Plaintiff must only prove that said rulings are “contrary to law.” See, Bulley v. Fidelity Financial Services of Mississippi, Inc., 2000 WL 1349184 at *2 (S.D. Miss. 2000) (given lack of factual infirmities that would render non-dispositive order clearly erroneous, the standard is whether same is contrary to law). The unnecessarily restrictive and inconsistent order of the Magistrate Judge well satisfies Plaintiff’s obligation to establish same are “contrary to law.”

Intended as a review of action in multiple cases, too many games are being played in Southern District Federal Court and Keeping Score #3 will now be posted as a series.  SLABBED begins the report asking…

Who has the balls?

For no good reason expressed, State Farm unilaterally rewrote Plaintiff’s discovery and produced only limited documents relating to claims…This arbitrary restriction was approved by the Magistrate Judge. Given that such discovery is not only allowed within the broad parameters of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure but more specifically by the same Magistrate’s own orders in similar cases, the restriction in this case is clearly “contrary to law.”

Who has the balls?

Acting in a manner clearly contrary to law, the United States Magistrate Judge has approved State Farm’s unprecedented, unsupported, and illegal concealment of discoverable facts.

Who has the balls?

Indeed, deliberate concealment of evidence during the discovery process is typically responded to by condemnation and not affirmation. Attorney Jack Land, acting in the course of his representation of State Farm, was disbarred for failing to identify relevant documents and witnesses in discovery. Miss. Bar v. Land, 653 So. 2d 899 (Miss. 1995). The Magistrate’s order would approve such concealment as long as the insurer disavows reliance on same, a requirement certain to allow evidence unfavorable to State Farm to remain hidden from Plaintiff.

Who has the balls?

It should not be open to debate that Plaintiff is entitled to have potential witnesses identified in this case. State Farm should not be permitted to pick and choose which witnesses to identify. The Magistrate’s conclusion that Plaintiff is required to prove that the documents produced are “insufficient” is not supported by the law. Nonetheless, such documents are obviously insufficient as they deleted the names of critical witnesses and other information solely in State Farm’s possession.

Who has the balls?

Plaintiff has sought discovery of documents relating to meetings conducted by State Farm concerning the handling of Hurricane Katrina claims. Acting in a manner contrary to law, the Magistrate Judge protected State Farm from this discovery. Indeed, State Farm has not even been required in this case to produce documents it has produced in other cases.

Who has the balls?

Documents in existence relating to discussions of State Farm personnel in meetings on the handling of Hurricane Katrina claims are obviously relevant to the issues in this suit. It is known that State Farm conducted a meeting with all team managers relating to when to pay and not pay claims on September 1, 6, 17, 22, 23, and 26 and October 4, 5, 7, and 12, 2005. At one of these meetings, State Farm team leaders were told to “just say no” with regard to wind claims and, if necessary, they would be paid “on the back side”. The deposition of adjuster Matthew Thiele taken July 13, 2009, confirmed that meetings were held on Hurricane Katrina claims issues, that emails were sent concerning these meetings and that documents were presented.

State Farm has not produced a single document relating to these meetings. State Farm is not entitled to be protected from producing to its insured the documentation requested. The Magistrate Judge’s order in this regard should be reversed.

Who has the balls?

In Request No. 8, Plaintiff seeks discovery of emails and similar documents from individuals involved in the handling of Plaintiff’s claim. Such discovery is obviously relevant in this case. Moreover, such emails and documents are known to exist, as some have been produced in other cases. Inexplicably, the Magistrate Judge has refused to require State Farm to produce emails from individuals involved in decision making concerning Plaintiff’s claim. The protection afforded State Farm is contrary to law. The Magistrate Judge’ s order should be reversed.

Who has the balls?

Plaintiff is seeking to determine how State Farm interprets its inflation index and what that index is based upon. The Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that State Farm’s vague reference to an “index of inflation and constructions” was sufficient is contrary to law. This equivocal answer does not permit Plaintiff to calculate the inflation index protection afforded by the policy.

State Farm’s objections to Interrogatories 19 and 20 are without merit and should be stricken. State Farm should be ordered to precisely answer the interrogatories as written. The Magistrate Judge’s order is contrary to law and should be reversed.

Who has the balls?

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, Plaintiff respectfully requests this Honorable Court enter an Order reversing the Order of the Magistrate Judge and compelling the Defendant to produce any and all documents responsive to specific Requests for Production served by the Plaintiff in the above referenced matter, as set forth above; and ordering the Defendant to pay costs and expenses, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, incurred in bringing the Motion to Compel before the Court, together with any and all additional relief in favor of the Plaintiff deemed appropriate by the Court.

Given all the wild calls Magistrate Judge Robert Walker has been making in Katrina litigation, who has the balls to file this Reply in Support of Application for Review of and Objection to…Order of United States Magistrate Judge ?

It could have been any one of a number of plaintiffs’ attorneys –  but in this case, Bossier v State Farm, Counsel was Judy Guice, Queen of the Slabbed.

No doubt, the Queen has a very heavy purse!

11 thoughts on “Keeping score #3 – Who has the balls?”

  1. Nowdy I guess Walker is living in some sort of weird state of denial that his rulings, especially those that protect a large insurer in the face of well established and contrary case law, are revealing his stunning lack of judicial fitness to the entire country.

    Whoever is in charge at the USDC’s need to get the boy under control before the public’s confidence in the federal judicial system is completely destroyed.

    I know this, he’ll never make it past magistrate as he can’t seem to grasp applicable case law in a basic insurance case.

    sop

  2. Walker’s off the wall Orders are all over the map – and doing more damage than Katrina. He should be removed from all insurance cases and have his decisions reviewed by a panel.

  3. The Judge Walkers of the world are not limited to the Souther District of Mississippi.

    A lot of really poor decisions are being handed down here in La. every day by the federal bench. Decisions that are simply laughable and have zero support under the law.

    IMO judges faced with Katrina claims believe plaintiffs’ attorneys are on a witch hunt and are taking their beliefs out in ridiculous, baseless and legally incorrect rulings.

    When did becoming a judge mean you deprive one of the litigants of their rights under the law? Hmmm…..

  4. You can find no better a set of balls than on a woman. But I see this one a little differently. This has way more to do with brains than balls. She’s set this out as clearly as could be. As much as I’d love to comment on the protection State Farm has been afforded in Louisiana litigation, I’ll resist.

  5. I only know Magistrate Walker through “slabbed”, but a few general comments are in order. Unlike Federal District Court Judges, U.S. Magistrates are not confirmed for lifetime appointments on good behavior. Rather, Magistrates serve at the will of the District Court Judges. Why is this relevant? Because EVERYTHING Walker does, and how he rules in any given case, is calculated to “please” each of his many “bosses”, ie. the District Court Judges, who can fire Magistrates or vote not to renew their contracts. This is simply called “job security”. So it’s a safe bet that Walker is “just following orders” from upon high. The safest bet is the Judge to whom Ms. Guice’s case has been assigned, but it could be someone else with an agenda, or a surrogate. It also could be State Farm, or State Farm’s lawyers, or someone with “influence” with the Court. Remember, although Federal Judges are generally respected by the public at large, they are and always have been politicians, who owe people a lot of favors for where they are today. Walker also knows that the standard of review for decisions he authors is the almost impossible to prove “clearly erroneous” or “contrary to law” BULLSHIT standard, and he has got to be pretty confident that the “real” presiding District Judge is, more likely than not, not going to rule that his “boy”, Walker, screwed up. It was my personal experience before I was disbarred that a really good case could get totally screwed up by erroneous rulings from stupid, lazy U.S.Magistrates, who knew they were doing the boss’ bidding, and that the boss wasn’t about to reverse them on any issue. Bottom Line: Although it’s sometimes unavoidable, particularly in a discovery context, litigants are generally better of not allowing a Magistrate to decide anything substantive, because once it’s written in stone, it’s written in stone. Maybe Ms. Guice should also make a constitutional argument, ie. that Walker’s denial of discovery deprives the plaintiffs of due process, equal protection and property rights. Walker’s denial of critical discovery, which will likely reveal one or more “smoking guns” , essentially shuts down the plaintiffs’ case before it ever got off the ground, and will require a hefty dose of speculation in making the plaintiffs’ arguments. But then again, that’s just what whoever is calling the shots may want, and he or they probably are quite happy with Walker’s ruling, which probably will not be reversed.

  6. It’s a F$$ked,up epidemic. It’s all being driven by personal desire. I’ve been cruising the courts since 2001, it isn’t that the law doesn’t apply to some. But rather to none. Is there some pending doom which has brought about self preservation to these rouge servants of Government?

  7. When I was a boy, my Dad told me to NEVER call a man a liar or a thief, unless I could “make book” on it. Accordingly, calling Federal Judges “crooked” doesn’t come naturally to me. I am going to exclude Judge Senter from this comment, because his opinions tell me that he is “old school”, a man of character, and a gentleman of the type that are few and far between these days. Reading between the lines, I have concluded that you all in Mississippi have a real problem with the same problem we in Louisiana have had to contend with, post-KATRINA: A corrupt Federal Bench. Further deponent sayeth not.

  8. To SOP: It just means to me that Senter, who is an “old man”, ain’t calling the shots. Someone else is. Maybe they’re waiting on him to die, or to become infirm. This is NEFARIOUS. But then, what do I know about Mississloppy?

  9. More, Sop, and a lot of those bodies are “unidentified” – they’re people who needed a “class” to join that ended up with little or nothing paid by their insurer compared to the coverage they purchased. How does that wrong ever get righted?

  10. I’d have to agree with Ashton Re: judge Senter. I’ve had filings before him that were going right along with legal procedure. Then BAM! another judge took over canceling and dismissing the cause along with immediate contact to Jackson base attorneys, kinda like you all don’t worry I got you back regardless of law.

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