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!”

The feeling is Mutual – so is the fact

…these competing interests–the right to full and free access to the courts and the right to be free of groundless and vexatious litigation–are important considerations in the evenhanded process our judicial system provides for the resolution of legitimate disputes …it is my sincere hope that the type of normal, professional, and focused advocacy necessary to resolve the individual merits of the cases still outstanding will presently come to the fore.

Judge L.T. Senter, Abney v State Farm June 4, 2008

A few weeks later (June 20, 2008), Judge Senter restated his position and SLABBED reported Judge Senter loses patience with the Farm and threatens sanctions:

It is time and past time for the internecine and acrimonious warfare among the attorneys to stop and for the focus to shift to the task of resolving the many remaining cases on their merits. Anything short of this will not be tolerated.

Judge Senter’s commitment to focus on the individual merits of the cases is as reassuring, and I believe as heartfelt, as his wonderfully warm smile.  Consequently, it grieves me greatly to say his north Mississippi roots are showing when he segregates the role of State Farm Mutual from the “merits of the case”.

State Farm Mutual is to State Farm Fire what SKG was to the attorneys working for the member law firms – two parts of the same whole, according to his Order  in McIntosh v State Farm disqualifying all attorneys of the member firms; but, contrary to his opinions and orders when plaintiffs attempt to hold State Farm Mutual accountable for the conduct of one of the claims handling process.

Consider, for example, this text from an Order issued the 17th of March, 2008 in Marion v State Farm denying plaintiffs applications for review of certain orders of the Magistrate Judge: Continue reading “The feeling is Mutual – so is the fact”

Defendant’s Response heavy on argument but light on facts – O’Keefe v State Farm

O’Keefe v State Farm was briefly introduced at the end of February in Katrina insurance litigation – selected Nationwide and State Farm cases.

O’Keefe, as you may recall from the earlier post, was initially filed in State court.  As reported in that post, the O’Keefe’s legal fees increased dramatically once the case was moved to federal court.  Given the cause for complaint at that point were the 17 motions in limine that had been filed since the move, I can only imagine how frustrated they are at this point after all the twists and turns the case has taken since that post was written.

State Farm must be frustrated, too, because they’ve lost their grip on this one.  See if you don’t agree as we examine recent filings in the case on the dispute over Scope of Coverage; i.e. State Farm’s insistence the Plaintiffs’ business expenses for Dancel were not covered in the O’Keefe’s homeowner’s coverage.

The title quote – long on argument but light on facts – comes from Plaintiff’s Rebuttal in Opposition to Defendants’ Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion for Declaratory Judgment/Partial Summary Judgment RE Scope of Coverage.

…contrary to State Farm’s argument, the pertinent facts in this issue include: Continue reading “Defendant’s Response heavy on argument but light on facts – O’Keefe v State Farm”