September 1970 was a time of big personal change for me. We were living outside Washington, D.C. and my father had just received orders to the National Data Buoy Project at NASA’s Mississippi Test Facility, now known as the Stennis Space Center. My mother, who grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was in tears wondering how her children were ever going to get an education in Hancock County, Mississippi. Three years later, she was crying as we left for Southern California. Rather than follow my father right away, we stayed an extra year, using an excuse that my father would be gone for nine months on a Coast Guard icebreaker. The best education and lessons I have ever had were from brothers of the Sacred Heart at Saint Stanislaus during seventh and eighth grades. Drew Brees had it right when he spoke of how much the New Orleans Saints football team means to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Region.
I have been asked to participate in a roundtable discussion regarding alternative dispute resolution processes by Sean Shaw, the Florida Consumer Advocate.
When somebody starts talking with you over dinner about which part of the brain makes you worry that something bad may happen to you and talks with sentences that seem to have "cognition" interspersed frequently with "cortex," you know to skip cocktails. The person speaking with me was Alaska attorney, Don Bauermeister. He is a person of study and reflective brilliance. We discussed how the techniques of insurance claim settlement and trial presentation can be studied and implemented for the purpose of helping our policyholder clients.
Following yesterday’s post, What is a Bad Faith Claim? Or, When Does an Insurance Claim Wrongfully Handled Become a Bad Faith Claim?, there were a couple of posts suggesting that class action lawsuits were the answer to wrongful claims practices. Frankly, most policyholders are more successful financially with individual cases than through class action cases in insurance matters. Many class settlements are nothing other than the insurer buying its way out of a bigger mess and paying off attorneys looking for a big payday. Our firm is very selective about class matters because of the “good for the attorney’s pocket versus bad for the client’s pocket” conflict.
I just finished a two day settlement conference of a commercial insurance claim dispute held on the 51st floor of Fulbright & Jaworski in Houston. The view from the conference room was beautiful and in juxtaposition to the manner my client felt the insurance claim was handled. As is becoming customary for many of my cases, the terms of the settlement are confidential. The resolution ended very amicably, although the process was somewhat frustrating. The significant aspect to others is this was a matter whose facts are similar to, and seem repeated in, thousands of other Texas losses, no matter if the loss is small or a complex middle eight figure claim. Insurance claim denials and delays seem commonplace in Texas.
As homeowners, business owners, adjusters, and government and relief agencies begin to sort through the devastation left in the wake of the dangerous storms and tornadoes that tore through the southeast last week, the stark and solemn reality of the loss of life and property is overwhelming. So many families and communities are grieving tremendous losses.
Making an offer to the other party in a lawsuit to settle a case confidentially is equally available to both parties. Once agreed to, strict adherence is an absolute requirement.…
Continue Reading Confidential Settlements
The best way to prepare for an insurance settlement is to prepare the case for trial. Trying to predict what would probably happen at trial is a great way to gauge the value of an insurance dispute.
I am writing this while flying to New Orleans for a mediation tomorrow morning. This blog post may be removed if the matter settles–so read quickly.
Nowdoucit from Slabbed wrote a comment to my post, Surplus Lines Insurers, Sinkholes, and the Law of Mars, concerning the selection of lawyers:
"The more cases I read, the more convinced I become of the importance of retaining an attorney experienced in insurance claims litigation – better yet, experienced and successful.
The case you cited, Chip, is a different but compelling example of the difference that can make."
There is nothing like combining business with pleasure. I suppose if your business is fun, you are always having a party at work. Today, I am meeting with my bad faith insurance attorney colleagues. Tonight, I will celebrate the Port of New Orleans litigation with my client, co-counsel and legal staff.