One of the last remaining Hurricane Katrina cases is the Qui Tam litigation involving the Rigsby sisters’ allegations that State Farm fraudulently overcharged the government when handling NFIP flood claims. The Rigsby sisters alleged State Farm overpaid NFIP flood claims it adjusted to reduce the amount owed under the all risk policies State Farm issued. A jury verdict this week found that State Farm was fraudulent in its claims conduct when adjusting National Flood Insurance claims.
Another hurricane season is fast approaching, but, before the storms start brewing, one developer is looking to get a glimpse at what happens when the storms roll in. Darrell Jones has spent years developing a video-recording system that he hopes will withstand a hurricane and capture video images of a hurricane’s wrath. Jones’ goal is to preserve footage taken during the hurricane to help evaluate the most important question in hurricane property damage cases: was the damage caused by wind or flood?
Slabbed brought to my attention that U.S. District Judge Senter was retiring in Federal Judge L.T. Senter is Retiring. Ex Rel Rigsby to be Transfered to Another Judge. An unsung hero in the Katrina litigation, Sun-Herald investigative reporter Anita Lee, broke the story of Judge Senter’s retirement in U.S. District Judge Retiring and provided a brief biography of his legal career:
Senter, a University of Mississippi Law School graduate, served as a circuit judge before he was appointed to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.
He worked from 1980 to 1982 as a federal judge in Mississippi’s Northern District, then as the district’s chief judge from 1982 to 1998. He took senior status in 1998, and began traveling to the Coast in 2000 to help out with the caseload.
He moved to the Coast in 2002. After Katrina hit, he agreed to take on the insurance cases with the assistance of U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker. Other judges had to recuse themselves from the cases because their homes suffered hurricane damage.
Mississippi Representative Gene Taylor successfully placed language into House Bill H.R. 1264—“the Multiple Peril Insurance Act”— which would require “Write Your Own” insurers participating in the National Flood Program to remove anti-concurrent causation language from their all risk insurance policies. Taylor’s house was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. Many of his neighbors’ insurance claims were denied based on the continuing wind versus flood insurance coverage controversy which I noted recently in Texas Windstorm Insurer Settles 2,400 Hurricane Ike Slab Claims.
Continue Reading Will Flood Insurance Insurers Lose AntiConcurrent Cause Language?
The response by Robert Hartwig of the Insurance Information Institute to the landmark Corban decision typifies how executives at many insurance companies feel about their customers. If not, Hartwick would be out of a job. Here is his quote taken from Anita Lee’s article:
My initial and simple impression posted in Corban Mississippi Supreme Court Case Decided, Part 2 stands. My emotions and thoughts during my three readings of this decision kept reminding me of people I have met, represented, debated and lived out this saga with in Mississippi since the fall of 2005.
State Farm lost its most significant claims case while Ed Rust Jr. was the "owner/manager" of State Farm. Ed Rust Jr. was the person who ultimately decided that thousands of State Farm policyholders would be underpaid or denied benefits in Mississippi. He is the chief corporate leader of State Farm Mutual, the corporation that allows its wholly owned subsidiary, State Farm Florida, to essentially lie about its financial situation. Everybody—especially Rust–knows that State Farm Florida is paying millions that would otherwise be profits to State Farm Mutual. I suspect a number of highly qualified agents and claims adjusters wonder why there has been no change in the top management for two generations. After all, in the United States, we believe in earning leadership rather than being born into it.