Many insurance defense attorneys buy watches that run fast – but Citizens insurance defense attorneys have Daytona Rolexes that run as fast as the cars at the Daytona 500. My perception is supported by the Office of the Internal Auditor. Sadly, the findings of their forensic audit report are so serious that Citizens management has said it will refer the matter to criminal authorities and the Florida Bar.

The report had these findings:

. . . Citizens failed to effectively manage and monitor litigator’s spend which led to certain unethical and egregious litigator behaviors. Our results noted the following potentially unethical or improper billing practices that drove excessive billings:

  • Value billing,

  • Double billing,

  • Billing for duplicating work,

  • Billing for unnecessary or unneeded work or work never performed,

  • Inflating time per task,

  • Associates billing their time utilizing more expensive senior Attorney’s higher billing rate, and

  • Billing on cases that were already closed and/or settled.

The attorneys involved with these activities may be in deep trouble based on what Citizen’s management has said it will do:

Management concurs with this finding. Legal Bill overbilling by defense counsel is no different than any other abuse of policyholder premiums. Management will pursue the remedies available to recover monies that were improperly billed. Further the attorneys responsible for the excessive billing must be held accountable under the Citizens contract, as well as referring evidence of overbilling abuse to the appropriate criminal and professional authorities. This process of accountability will begin with termination of the Defense Counsel contracts of the three firms whose actions were confirmed in the audit, as well as for an attorney involved in overbilling who moved to another firm. Referrals to the appropriate criminal and professional authorities will be made for these three firms. Also, demands for justification of hours billed will be sent to twelve firms with attorneys with annual billings in excess of 2,500 hours.

It will be interesting to see what those overbilling firms say. I do not think the purchase of Daytona Rolexes will be much of an excuse.

Positive Thought for the Day:

Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.
      – Thomas Edison