Vivian Persand is making headway against Safeco and Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. Sharing information and networking with similarly situated policyholders who are litigating issues involving the companies’ claims management practices and underpayment of claims is important. Attorneys who do share information reduce the cost of litigation for their clients, show that the insurance defense attorneys generally are not truthful in their disclosures of incriminating information, and generally win more cases. As a result of a Hurricane Ike insurance dispute involving a medical complex insured by Safeco and problems involved with opposing counsel and Safeco in that matter, I have become involved in organizing the policyholder’s bar so that we can more effectively litigate the claims practices of Safeco and Liberty Mutual.
An example of how networking and sharing of information helps policyholder litigants is found in a West Virginia discovery Order in Ebbert v. Liberty Mutual Insurance. There, the Court appointed a special Master to aid in the discovery and specifically noted:
The Court is quite concerned about Liberty Mutual’s answers and responses to Plaintiff’s discovery requests.
The Court is not precluding the possibility of fines.
Some insurance defense counsel and insurers provide little or no useful information in response to discovery requests. They hope that the policyholder’s counsel will be lazy and not compel the production of good faith answers or that overworked Courts will not get around to ordering responses. A book I noted in The Value of Networking and Sharing Insurance Claims Information Between Policyholders, "Full Disclosure," explains these tactics and what to do about those insurance defense attorneys and insurers that operate in less than good faith during the discovery process.
The Order in Ebbert v. Liberty Mutual also required the production of specifically named internal claims management documents which alert the rest of the policyholder’s bar to what they should specifically demand from Liberty Mutual. This includes:
documents regarding the CFR program, Claims Outcome Advisor ("COA"), as well as documents that deal with bonuses, incentives and the processes for claims settlements.
Vivian Persand will be following up with West Virginia attorney David Jividen, who obtained this order. I strongly encourage any policyholder attorney with litigation involving Safeco or Liberty Mutual to contact Vivian Persand at 305-448-4800. I also encourage policyholder counsel to join the American Association for Justice Bad Faith Litigation Group, which David Pettinato, of our firm, chairs. The Bad Faith Litigation Group will meet at the AAJ’s Annual Convention July 10-14 in Vancouver. We plan to hold a networking meeting among the attorneys with Safeco and Liberty Mutual claims practice cases.