Fraud is generally defined as an act done with the intent to deceive or misrepresent others in order to attain or secure some unlawful gain or deprive a victim of a legal right. Different courts, states, and bodies of law throughout our country have their own unique causes of action based in fraud, or where fraud is the primary allegation.
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The Rigsby sisters have now prevailed in the highest court of the land in their decade long fight against State Farm.1 The Rigsby sisters were catastrophe adjusters working for State Farm on Hurricane Katrina claims. I have noted this case for some time:


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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.


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Slabbed has been dogged regarding its reporting on the Mississippi qui tam litigation involving State Farm. A recent post, Rigsbys file “Motion to Reconsider Scope of Proceedings in Light of Evidence Adduced in Discovery” – ask Court for additional time to conduct Discovery into “the Scheme,” provides some insight regarding the flood adjustment techniques required by National Flood versus how flood adjusters in the field actually do their job.


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The Gulf Coast has hot and calm days that are merciless for those on the water. I recall my teenage years in Mississippi, stripping to briefs and jumping off a sailboat that was going nowhere fast on a calm morning race in Mobile Bay. I was thinking about that while attending a deposition of Chris McIntosh in Gulfport yesterday and after reading emails from marine engineers who suggest that it will take several months, rather than weeks, for the worst of the oil spill onslaught to reach Florida.


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Some Mondays are more interesting than others. When I go to conferences with adjusters, I make a point to ask about "in the street" information on insurers I am litigating against. The information and leads to witnesses or evidence are often extremely valuable to my clients. Adjusters know when the orders from claims management are wrong and aimed at paying less than what is fairly owed. Most want to disclose facts about insurers that wrongly demand underpayment.


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An important evidentiary hearing concerning alleged wrongful claims practices is taking place in Mississippi. Since the allegations partially involve an insurance company obtaining altered or biased reports from experts, it should be studied by those with similar concerns in other areas of the country. The primary issue in this case is whether State Farm adjusted flood losses so that the Federal Government paid too much on those flood claims through the National Flood Program. The lawsuit contends that State Farm had a motive for doing so because it could minimize the amount owed under its own all risk insurance policies which exclude flood damage.

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There are still a number of Hurricane Katrina cases we are actively litigating in Mississippi. One of the cases being followed closely by Slabbed is the Qui Tam litigation, brought by the two Rigsby sisters that worked for State Farm following catastrophes. The Rigsbys claim that the federal government paid more in National Flood payments than what was owed because State Farm altered engineering reports and made outcome oriented adjustments, which maximized flood related damaged so that the amounts paid under State Farm’s policies would be minimized.


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