I read Law360 five days a week for insurance law, class action matters, and California cases. One article, Insurer Says Condo’s Engineer Padded $30M Hurricane Claim,1 caused me to ask our Merlin Law Group Knowledge Manager, Ruck DeMinico, to get me more of the pleadings and reports from the case since it involved an engineering report which was allegedly changed in a wrongful manner to support a policyholder’s position rather than an insurance company’s position. Continue Reading Proper and Ethical Peer Review of Engineering Reports Is Important—But Wrongfully Changed Outcome Oriented Reports Are Never Right
Drew Houghton heads up Merlin Law Group operations in our Oklahoma City office. I was speaking with him just before our holiday party about the American Policyholder Association combating fraudulent engineering reports harming policyholders as noted in, American Policyholder Association Makes Resonating Comments About Insurance Fraud Against Policyholders. Drew then told me about a recently filed Oklahoma class action where engineers were accused of sham reports to help prevent earthquake claims payments. Continue Reading Engineers Accused of Sham Reports in Class Action
On January 10, 2017, Matthew Pappalardo, former director of HiRise Engineering of Uniondale, New York, pled guilty to the unauthorized practice of engineering as a result of fraudulently changed engineering reports for Superstorm Sandy flood victims. Continue Reading Engineer Pleads Guilty to Falsifying Superstorm Sandy Reports
The Tom Brady legal victory is being criticized, lauded, and talked about by millions in our fanatical football country. Unlike the vast majority of fans—and being a nerdy insurance lawyer—I read the report. While doing so, I was struck about the similarity between the court’s reasoning into the unfairness of Brady’s proceedings and altered insurance engineering and estimate reports.
Superstorm Sandy litigation revealed altered engineering reports concerning damage to homes ravaged by the storm, and now allegations of altered engineering reports are surfacing.
Most readers of this blog are aware of the issues surrounding altered engineering reports in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Often attorneys get a gut feeling about a case and believe that the other side may be trying to hide the ball. This has been true in many of our Sandy cases. On one such case, I discovered today that my gut was correct.
Late yesterday evening, December 10, 2014, Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey sent a letter to several law firms handling Superstorm Sandy claims, Merlin Law Group included, concerning the potentially widespread issue of “Revised” engineering reports.
Yale educated Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown issued a blockbuster discovery ruling which will have ramifications for insurance litigation far past Superstorm Sandy flood cases. He is requiring insurers to turn over "drafts" of engineering reports.1
Imagine a situation where a butcher sliced some meat you ordered, weighed your cut, and then told you that you owed $43.79—but refused to tell you how he calculated the price. Would you simply agree and pay the butcher? Of course not. But this is what happens all the time when insurers refuse to turn over engineering reports or honestly explain how evaluations of damage were arrived.
Yesterday afternoon, Jean Niven was presenting an in-house Merlin Law Group continuing legal education seminar about expert witnesses and the exacting standards for their allowance to testify in federal court. During the presentation, I thought about how a lost insurance coverage case1 could have ended differently if the policyholder’s expert witnesses had been allowed to testify about the damages. Jean is our firm’s expert witness authority. She works with our clients’ expert witnesses to make sure they are able to testify. Continue Reading Insurance Coverage Cases Can Be Won or Lost Based on Expert Witnesses and The Preparation of Their Reports and Testimony