Yes, Sop, you heard someone say there was a qui tam hearing today before Judge Vance! It must have been a hoot, too! I wrote about defendant Fidelity’s bright idea to collect any NFIP overpayments from the policyholders paid by the defendants in taproot- digging up the fact. However, my bad for not realizing until today’s Minute Entry that Fidelity was represented by none-other than the self-proclaimed King of Flood, Gerald 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. If one were to run a Westlaw search of the undersigned’s name and the word “flood,” one would find that the majority of all Program caselaw being announced in the country over the last few years lists the undersigned as the attorney of record for the WYO carrier.
Believe me, readers, this is not encouraging! Nielsen likely conceived the convoluted reasoning in the Company’s Answer and Third Party Demand and argued it before Judge Vance today – telling her, “It would be morally correct to sue the homeowners to collect the overpayments.” I bet she thought she he’d lost his scienter – actually, I bet she thought she was hallucinating!
The Minute Entry of the hearing does show she issued an Order ensuring there will be no service of the Third Party Demand until she decides the matter. In a related decision, Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan re-issued the Scheduling Order with notes about matters still to be decided. The biggest issues among the big issues on the table – the Branch Motion to File an Amended Complaint and the limits on Discovery- should be somewhat familiar to readers of the Qui Tam Olympics. The set of slides that follows below introduces the Discovery issues in the context of the Supreme Court’s Rockwell decision: