Just a ClaimSmentor Moment #6- Update 3/09 on EA Renfroe/ Rigsby Whistleblower case-Possible Settlement

March 20, 2009

 

No time for blogging today but you won’t want to miss this blog over at Slabbed on settlement updates and court documents on the EARenfroe and Rigsby Whistleblower case. Slabbed thanks for updating this as many claims industry members are very interested in this topic. I’m hoping for EA Renfroe’s sake that this does settle. They sure did NOT deserve what the Rigby whistleblowers have put them through since Katrina. We have some old blogs here (just enter Rigsby in the search field to locate them. One of the Rigsby’s actually said in their deposition that EA Renfroe had done nothing wrong. More on that later:

http://slabbed.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/anita-lee-reports-from-team-rigsby/

 

This is an important case for adjusters to study from the stand point of Code of Conduct forms you are required to sign by carrier’s and what happens when you violate those code of conduct forms.

By all accounts I have ever heard from independent adjusters, EA Renfroe is an excellent adjusting firm to work for. I also managed their independents during my management career and found the same to be true. What a shame these whistleblowers put them through this when by their own admission their complaint was with the carrier.


State Farm Seeks Dismissal on Rigsby False Claim Act/KLG update/ Levee Break (Sher) decision including Overhead and Profit issues

April 9, 2008

It sure is difficult to get to work these past few days with all of the breaking claims news involving Katrina cases.

First we have developments with State Farm’s move to have the Rigsby Whistleblower (False Claim Act )case dismissed, the attorneys removed which actually comes as no surprise after the decision last week that the Katrina Litigation Group (KLG which picked up where SKG- Scruggs Katrina Group left off) could not represent the remaining policyholders on their pending claims nor could the Rigsby documents any longer be used. The surprising news which also should have been anticipated was that State Farm says they have filed a counter suit against them. If you missed the news last week which I didn’t have time to blog about on those actions- just view this topic and this carrier press release to catch up to speed on the court decision on the Rigsby’s and the KLG.

State Farm has released much information including information from the Rigsby’s depositions along with many court documents. Here is a link to their site with more documents than I’ve seen released on any of the blogs and forums thus far (thank you State Farm!):

http://www.statefarm.com/about/media/media_releases/rigsby.asp

I have to say that I am very pleased to see several of the insurance carriers posting their side of these stories/hot topics in the news with links to documents and their summary of the carrier position. Years ago when a staff manager, I found it very frustrating when you’d read bad press and could only speak “talking points”  and I often wondered why a carrier wouldn’t respond with more details than the very limited press releases. Things have changed post Katrina I feel sure due to today’s internet environment to include blogs,  forums, and in response to policyholder attorneys posting their side of the story on their websites. Their posts are most helpful to independents who have a very hard time locating information to keep up to date with developments on major hot claim topics and cases between assignments and this is going far to help educate us all rather than just reading bad press in non insurance related news articles, forums, and blogs.

One comment …. I hope the carriers do a better job at maintaining the archived stories on their websites rather than untimely removing them as MS AG Jim Hood did in December 2007 with his web redesign taking down many documents he had up against the carrier. If you missed it, here’s a news story that ran about his site taking down the documents( it’s by www.legalnewsline.com run Dec 2007). Leaves you to ask the question- why? I’ve heard folks guesses which include this was within weeks of Trent Lott’s retirement and the Scruggs indictments. Is there something he didn’t want us to view any longer? I have no idea but the timing is certainly interesting. Also- wasn’t it January 2008 (yes it was- here is a news story that ran when this happened at www.insurancejournal.com and here is a link to that story here when he reopened the criminal investigation against the carrier? Something he didn’t want them to be able to link to any longer? Again, no idea! In addition. many of the links in forum blogs that were connected to the Scruggs Katrina group no longer work since they have pulled that site down now making it frustrating I’m sure for folks trying to read through former blogs that contained links to any of those documents referred to in posts.

In addition to reading State Farm’s official website with all of the documents you could want to read, run over to Rossmiller’s insurance coverage blog here for great details and opinions from an Insurance carrier attorney point of view, over here to FOLO for more outstanding information. I particularly enjoyed the Folo comment on the release of an aircraft carrier group of court filings having grown up myself as a Navy brat with my dad serving on numerous aircraft carriers so it was quite easy to envision the author’s description. Once you view the State Farm link above and see all the documents- no doubt you’ll agree with the comparison! Finally, the Sun Herald has several news stories up on the topic to include a quote by a Rigsby attorney you’ll definitely not want to miss-here on page 2 of the story. There are links in the story to about 4 other stories they’ve done on the case as well.

Before I move on to the Sher case, I want to point out this comment on the State Farm press release “State Farm has filed a counterclaim against the Rigsbys seeking damages for their admitted, unauthorized, theft of information from State Farm, in violation of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.” I didn’t know what that act was so doing a search for more information, I found this article by a law firm out of FL which addresses it and shows the fines and the departments having a right to investigate the fraud and abuse: click here to view it. I am curious if the Rigsby’s did this with several attorneys present as the State Farm site info says, would those other participants also be held to this act? Would the Rigsby’s then have an action they can file against the folks that were there acting as their counsel who didn’t tell them about this act or what they were getting themselves in to? It looks like this allegation if upheld will lead to years of more news on these issues, possible fines and sentencing depending on the subsections violated if this located article is up to date. It looks like there is MUCH we still don’t know about what really happened and when (see blog discussions and court docs- did they first meet with Scruggs in Feb 06, Dec 05, Oct 05…when?)

The second major claims news story deals with the levee break decision in the Sher case. Many of the blogs are reporting on the decision but not commenting on a concern many of us in claims have regarding the decision on page 25 where the judge allows 25% for overhead and profit and 20% for basically unforeseen contingency damages due to “unopposed” testimony of the insureds expert. Page 25 also discusses comments about “water hammer” damage which after over 30 years in claims, I have not heard that term used from the claims side. Someone want to enlighten us on that? Going back to the overhead and profit issues and trying to figure out why Lafayette’s Insurance counsel  did not oppose the plaintiff expert testimony, I am curious if that was a calculated move due to the other overhead and profit suit I posted about (click here) on the 20% standard used for overhead and profit on insurance claims by most carriers? They may have just preferred to let this particular claim settle and then those decisions be addressed under the other suit which named numerous carriers. I’d have to go back and look at that to see if Lafayette was one of them but in any case, it would be strictly a guess only. I tried to find the volume referred to by the judge in the  Louisiana Office of State Facility Planning and Control and couldn’t find it on a google search but did find an instruction memo they did release about hurricane damage to state buildings here written in Sept 2005 after Rita and it sure doesn’t sound like they  were letting contractors by with just adding 20% for contingency damages and expenses when you read their comments about inspections on contractors estimates and inspections required on the progress on repair projects. Without being able to review the exact Volume referred to by the plaintiff’s expert as discussed by the judge in his decision, it sure is hard to understand what that has to do with insurance practices and general insurance claim settlement standards isn’t it? You will find the entire decision ruling on the validity of the  flood policy exclusion language on the Sher case here at Rossmiller’s blog on the Sher decision as well as his supplemental blog adding more information found here.

All input appreciated on these cases and the overhead and profit issues addressed by the Sher decision. Just reply below.


Cori Rigsby January 2008 Deposition- Hoped to Remain Anonymous -Let’s Compare

March 29, 2008

Attorney David Rossmiller  has posted a newer January 2008 deposition for Cori Rigsby taken after her loss of income from the Katrina Scruggs Group (now Katrina Litigation Group).

This should provide interesting weekend reading and comparision to an earlier deposition we’d posted taken in November prior to Scruggs indictment and all the events which have taken place. At the time of the earlier deposition, they were still being paid going into their second year.

I’ll post any interesting comparisons between the two if there are any major discrepancies between the two. See Rossmiller’s 3/28/2008 post (click here) for his comments regarding her January 08 testimony that she hoped to remain anonymous (hard to believe when her earlier deposition said she reported it to State Farm the day after the data dump weekend…also consider the number of associates they brought in to help with the data dump weekend). Here is a link to our prior blog on Rigsby’s earlier deposition if you want to read both for yourself to compare the two. Wouldn’t it be great to have a copy of ALL of the depositions they both have given (Kerri and Cori) and compare the details of ALL of the depositions? I’d volunteer my time to compare them all if anyone has links to all of them for viewing. There remains a big question as I believe Rossmiller points out as to when they began their relationship with Scruggs- December 2005 or February 2006 as they testified to although this differs with other info available. That would be a major development if they pin down the fact they have provided inaccurate information on the initial meeting dates as many suspect (two additional months of their access to files and documenting their allegations?)

So what do you think about this more current deposition? As an adjuster or adjusting firm, are you glad to see these whistleblowing sisters have lost their income they were getting at a time that many experienced claim adjusters and managers were without income after no major storms in 06/07 while the Rigsby’s were drawing 150K for little to no work as they testified to in earlier depositions? Do you agree or disagree with Rossmiller’s guess that the Rigsby’s careers are “radioactive” in the independent adjusting or staff adjusting/management field? How about as public adjusters should they make a decision to flip if they cannot get employment again on the independent/staff side of claims?


Dickie Scruggs- Navy Fighter Pilot? Carl Horowitz article about Scruggs Career Up in Smoke

March 29, 2008

I ran across this article today by Carl Horowitz- very colorful by the way- summarizing the Dickie Scruggs saga and fall from grace. It’s an excellent detailed summary. I was very disappointed to read about his history as a Naval fighter pilot which I wasn’t aware of. I’m curious if anyone knows if he did 20 years in the Navy and if so if his military retirement and medical benefits would be jeopardized by the felony he’s pled guilty to? This article was written pre- son Zach Scruggs pleading guilty in the case but is still an outstanding summary of major litigation in the Scruggs law firm history.

Many of you who are members over at ClaimSmentor know that this mentoring project was started and dedicated in honor and memory of my mentor and best friend, my dad who served proudly for 35 years in the Navy as an aviation maintenance officer- AIMD- and I hate to think that anyone with a similar background and training could have done what Scruggs has plead guilty to. Here’s a link to the ClaimSmentor ABOUT US  page dedicating the project in my father’s honor if you aren’t aware of that.

Please comment if you know more about the number of years Scruggs served in the Navy and if it was 20 years if his retirement would be withheld as a result of this conviction (the loss of the income would be minor to Scruggs I’m sure but it’s the honor of it all I’m curious about). I’ve read alot about his history as discussed in this article with Presidential candidate John McCain and wonder now if they met while serving in the Navy.


Rigsby Whistleblower RICO case- Motion to Dismiss 3 of Insurance Carriers to Focus on State Farm

March 6, 2008

There have been more news stories and blogs covering all of the recent legal activity and investigations on Scruggs to the point it is impossible to keep up with blogging about them but I am still updating information on the Kerri Rigsby and Cori Rigsby whistleblower cases due to the high interest expressed in the activities on those claims and their actions.

We have viewed new articles alleging that the Rigsby’s in the RICO lawsuit alleging wrongdoing by multiple carriers has had new filings to drop carriers other than State Farm in RICO allegations/suit.

To find the updates on this new development, click on the links below:

Sun Herald March 5, 2008 story: click here

David Rossmiller at the Insurance Coverage blog 3/6/08 explains it all with humorous comments: click here 

Folo blog provides more info on the case and a good explanation of qui tam terms if you aren’t familiar with them: Click here

More on this case to follow along with the link on our prior blogs. This is an outstanding case for even new adjusters to follow as there are links to numerous adjuster file documents you can view to see real file samples. It’s been an excellent teaching tool for file samples for training new adjusters.

Adjusters interested in this whistleblower story may also be interested in viewing numerous documents about the 2006/2007 activity on the old OK tornado cases (1999) where State Farm executives were deposed and provided testimony in 06. The opposing counsel has posted all of their depositions which are quite interesting reading as they question their executives on Katrina claim issues. Especially take time to read the deposition of their Claim VP Susan Hood regarding use of independents and Haag Engineering. Here’s the link to that firm’s postings with the deposition links: Click here. She comments on the claim manager pleading the 5th and other interesting information to hear the carriers position on the Katrina claim file handling. I found it fascinating but will let you read it for yourself.

We’ll talk more about those links when I’ve completed reviewing them all myself and I will post additional information on the new dismissal motion as it becomes available.

Update 3:25 pm CST 3/6:

New Sun Herald story saying the 3 carriers they are asking to dismiss are Allstate, Nationwide, and USAA. Click here for the story


State Farm Vs Hood- Part III/ Hood/ Rigsby commendation?- An interesting news alert today?

February 23, 2008

You just never know what you’ll get with a news alert and here’s an interesting one received on the Rigsby’s today:

Google Web Alert for: Kerri Rigsby

SC 574 (As Introduced) – 2007 Regular Session
WHEREAS, Hood’s efforts were aided by Cori and Kerri Rigsby, two sisters from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, who worked for a State Farm contractor that

Here’s what it linked to which was quite surprising to see that Senators Dawkins and Williamson presented this Senate Concurrent Resolution 574 in 2007:

MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE2007 Regular SessionTo: RulesBy: Senator(s) Dawkins, Williamson

Senate Concurrent Resolution 574

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION COMMENDING THE ACTIONS OF CORI AND KERRI RIGSBY FROM OCEAN SPRINGS, MISSISSIPPI, FOR THEIR ASSISTANCE IN THE INVESTIGATION AND SUBSEQUENT LAWSUIT AGAINST THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY FOR FAILURE TO PAY CLAIMS FOR PROPERTY DAMAGE CAUSED BY HURRICANE KATRINA.

     WHEREAS, on Monday, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, originally designated a Category Four Hurricane, crashed with unrelenting and violent force onto the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast, making landfall at or around Waveland, Mississippi.  In one day, the worst natural disaster in our state’s history struck us a grievous blow, leaving a 90-mile swath of destruction along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and causing severe damage throughout Central and North Mississippi; and

     WHEREAS, after the damage from the hurricane was assessed, there were numerous disputes surrounding insurance claims or allocating wind damage and water damage, where the insurance industry denied homeowners and business property coverage; and

     WHEREAS, Mississippi suffered its greatest damage from Hurricane Katrina in sections of coastal communities where some residents were equipped to fight back.  Senator Trent Lott and Congressman Gene Taylor were among the plaintiffs and urged Congress to repeal insurers’ federal anti-trust exemption and investigate their post-storm claims practices before a national audience.  Mississippi’s legal system also allowed plaintiff’s attorneys to threaten punitive damages, and allowed the state’s Attorney General Jim Hood to hire extra lawyers on contingency to press his criminal investigation; and

     WHEREAS, in Mississippi, Attorney General Jim Hood opened a grand jury criminal investigation into insurers’ claims handling practices just a few weeks after the storm.  His probe focused on the wind-versus-flood debate in which some property owners were denied homeowners insurance payouts because insurers chalked the damage up to flood, which is covered by a separate policy that often pays out less; and

     WHEREAS, Hood’s efforts were aided by Cori and Kerri Rigsby, two sisters from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, who worked for a State Farm contractor that managed teams of adjusters.  The “whistle-blowers” left their employment with 150,000 pages of documents that they say shows that State Farm defrauded policyholders by manipulating engineering reports to deny claims.  The Rigsby’s turned them over to private attorneys, the Attorney General and Dunn Lampton, the U.S. Attorney in Mississippi; and

     WHEREAS, using the engineering information suggested by Cori and Kerri Rigsby, Attorney General Jim Hood has obtained concessions from State Farm Fire and Casualty Company regarding how it will handle policyholder claims resolved through an historic settlement agreement.  Attorney General Hood has dropped the civil lawsuit against State Farm in his quest to seek full payment of Katrina claims from insurers, but the lawsuit still stands against Mississippi Farm Bureau Insurance, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company, and United Services Automobile Association; and

     WHEREAS, the result was a well-coordinated assault in Mississippi, as compared to homeowners in Louisiana who were left to their own devices advocates say.  There was no high-ranking enforcement official investigating the insurance industry as in Mississippi; and

     WHEREAS, especially where many of the victims are low-income groups, the leadership of elected officials and employees such as Cori and Kerri who are willing to testify really matters, and we recognize these efforts on behalf of the citizens of our state:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend the actions of Cori and Kerri Rigsby from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, for their assistance in the investigation and subsequent lawsuits against the insurance industry for failure to pay claims for property damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to Cori and Kerri Rigsby and Attorney General Jim Hood and be made available to the Capitol Press Corps.

************

Doing further research to see if I could find more on this proposed resolution presented, I found this wikipedia report that says in part:

Results

In February 2007, Mississippi state senators Dawkins and Williamson submitted a resolution, Mississippi Senate Concurrent Resolution 574, ,to the state legislature commending the Rigsby sisters for their actions. The resolution died in committee and the Rigsbys garnered no formal recognition by the legislature.

*******

If you don’t know how Wikipedia works, here is a link explaining how information is added. Note also here that someone has contested the information in March and June 07 mentioning charges are pending involving the documents and asking that the Wikipedia info be deleted. If you think it should too- maybe you should add your comments as well! There are links to all types of documents on the Wikipedia info on the Rigsby’s if you haven’t already seen it before. Here’s the link once more. Make sure to note the top comments about “the neutrality of this article is disputed”. Not sure what that means but atleast it’s being disputed.

Some interesting observations- 150,000 pages of documents? Haven’t all the news and litigation documents indicated 15,000 pages? What happened to the other suits against Farm Bureau, USAA, and Allstate which we don’t hear anything about in the news? Two senators praising the Rigsby’s for stealing documents? I’m at a loss for words after reading this. Any comments? I hope State Farm  and/or EA Renfroe Adjusting firm has seen this document…if not, pass it on to someone there if you know some folks who might be interested!

If you missed State Farm Vs Hood Part I and II blogs, just click here and here.

**********

The blogs and news stories have been actively discussing issues related to AG Hood and donations promised from the five million dollar settlement State Farm made in Jan 07 that you’ll find quite interesting. First- here is the Sun Herald news story. This blog entry over at www.Statenewsshot.com ties the donations to AG Mike Moore (lots of ties to Scruggs ongoing discussions) and the Cal Ripken Foundation($200,000 donation) as well as Morgan Shands who ran Hood’s first campaign for AG in 2003 and the $800,000 donation to the Boys and Girls Club of MS. For lots of other current discussions, view blog entries over at Yall Politics and Folo.


Update on the Rigsby / EA Renfroe Whistleblower case- Will the KLG get dismissed on cases? Link to Cori Rigsby’s deposition

January 11, 2008

I promised earlier this week to get to an update on the Rigsby whistleblower case where a whirlwind of litigation is being filed to remove and substitute attorneys on some of the cases. It is mind boggling what is going on with these Katrina cases. Much of the activity is on the MacIntosh case. I have been trying to keep up with all of the court filings via google alerts but they are coming out so fast and furious I have decided its virtually impossible with limited time for blogging while attempting to keep up with ClaimSmentor classes and staffing needs. Thus, for excellent updates regarding the Scruggs bribery indictment activity and all of the motions being filed to dismiss, disengage and substitute attorneys representing many in the group, I would defer you to outstanding blogs at The Insurance Coverage Blog  for daily updates by Attorney David Rossmiller who seems to have a great handle on the issue and some often interesting commentaryover at another blog at www.folo.wordpress.com on this also. Wall Street Journal even got in the act this past week and here’s a link to their recent blog commentary on the attorney musical chairs and possible future additional indictments,etc found at: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/01/10/report-monday-to-be-big-day-in-laffaire-scruggs/.

I’m going to concentrate my attention to the activities actually involving the claims folks that I can find in the news. There is so much of that is being reported on blogs and forums but not with much detail from the claim side of things where I am the  most concerned and have the most understanding as a former claim manager. That is what I have been wanting to know- how their data dump weekend could ever have been done under a good claim manager’s watchful eye. Well, rather than throw too many links at you, I’m going to try to limit this update to two of the most important things that explained the situation to me and I think will help you also understand what is alleged to have happened on this case. First, we’ll go over the November 2007 deposition we found a link to from Cori Rigsby’s deposition then a January 4, 2008 court document filed by an attorney for EA Renfroe which is an outstanding detailed chronological list of what has happened here in their opinion. I think that is much better than guessing at the facts. They are the parties involved and these two documents are from their statements and records.

You might want to print out these links if you are truly interested in knowing their sides of the story as the deposition I believe was 127 pages and the document filed 1/4/08 with the court is 36 pages. There are so many other links we have to other stories popping up in the news but these two provide the best total summaries from beginning to this point that I have found.

Here’s the link to Cori’s deposition : http://www.insurancecoverageblog.com/McIntosh,%20November%2019%20Cori%20Rigsby%20deposition.pdf

I’d like to read one of Kerri Rigsby’s also but have yet to find an online link to one. Cori’s linked to above was taken in November 2007 as she is deposed by an attorney for State Farm first then an attorney for EA Renfroe. She outlines the timeline of events from her  first concern about “irregularities” within 2 weeks of arriving on assignment for Katrina all the way through some current information she is asked about as to how many hours per week they are working on the cases with the Scruggs (now Katrina Litigation Group_renamed from the Scruggs Katrina group) which you will see is very little. The deposition answers the question if they are still being paid which she states they are- that their verbal agreement is for $150K at over 6K biweekly since July 1, 2006 and she says when July 2007 rolled around they have continued to receive these funds. She also indicates all of their attorney fees are being covered by Scruggs so they have no worries there either. This salary is a hard pill to swallow for most adjusters who are out of work as carriers use more staff than independents plus the lack of hurricanes the past two years. More about that when you get to the EA Renfroe recent court document. There are many other things you will want to read in her deposition to form your own opinion about the Breach of Contract and violation of Confidentiality agreements such as the fact they actually began copying documents as far back as October 2005, had off site meetings with Scruggs and others involved with the documents where they brought their carrier issued laptop to meetings offsite while still working for EA Renfroe and State Farm and shared info on the system, where she emailed carrier documents to Zach Scruggs, and some really damaging information about an affair her sister had with a State Farm manager which I think most would agree is against carrier policies (sexual harassment policies and the person named in her testimony she says was a State Farm manager I think during Ivan that they worked with) for staff and for independent managers. I’ll provide a link to some motions just about that issue shortly. She admits the data dump weekend took place off carrier or adjusting firm premises with their(CARRIER) laptops being used with friends to run a list of documents they turned over to the AG and US Attorneys office the very next morning. There is so much information in the deposition you just need to read it yourself as it is hard to keep the entire story committed to memory. She does admit that they NEVER gave EA Renfroe any notice of their concerns of irregularity on the engineer reports alleging they were trying to “protect” them from involvement in the data dump weekend. Gee- what a favor- now they’ve been subject to untold number of cases with litigation you’ll see in the next document. It is particularly amazing to me the testimony about Glamour magazine running them in a story I believe it was in June 2007 as heroes. Read it for yourself. Heroes of what sort? I have not tried to link yet to that magazine issue. She also admits that she tried to make no contact with the Renfroes until right before the 20/20 news story ran. I could go on and on about the things stated in this deposition but I”ll leave that for now and you can read it for yourself on the link above. The reasons given for not telling them and their interpretation of violating their code of conduct make no sense to me but read her reasons and you decide as an adjuster. Other interesting information covered is that she tried to access her mom’s claim, Trent Lott’s claim,etc and that the carrier apparently must have had tracking records on that as they asked about numerous dates that they tried to access records on files under her alias id. It makes no sense also the statement that all files they copied they allege they took off a pirated copy of the carriers Engineer Roster assignment list yet there seems to be some implication in the questions during her deposition that they seem to align right up with a list of insureds involved in the MacFarland case I think it was (it’s mentioned in the depo questions). So did they really use the Engineer assignment list or was there more to it than that such as having been given a list from another case? I don’t know for sure what the questions meant.

Before I move on- here’s the link to a news story this week about legal activity taking place about the alleged affair. I hope adjusters reading this will take your ethics seriously and stay away from such activities with other storm members on cat at your adjusting firm or carrier level. I don’t know of any carriers that condone relationships between independents and staff as most hold very high standards for staff and independent managers to comply with sexual harassment policies. I don’t know what rules were for them on this cat but you can clearly see that it won’t remain a private affair if litigation as ugly as this whole thing  takes place so why even take the chance:

http://www.sunherald.com/306/story/290496.html

This article is about other issues concerning the insureds desire that info on the bribery not come out in their case but here is the excerpt about the affair in the last paragraph of the article:

“The couple’s attorneys also asked Senter to block jurors from hearing any testimony that Kerri Rigsby had romantic relationships with a State Farm employee and with a co-worker who also helped State Farm adjust Katrina claims.”

Next is the important court document filed January 4, 2008 by an attorney for EA Renfroe. Here is the link:

http://www.insurancecoverageblog.com/McIntosh,%20Renfroe%20motion%20to%20disqualify.pdf

You need to also read this 36 or so page document filed requesting dismissal of the rest of the Katrina Litigation group due to the payment of fees to the Rigsby’s when they are potential witnesses and due to the bribery charges. Most interesting in this document is that it takes you through the entire situation and shows you the reasons they think they should be removed from the case. The retaliation (if it is that as Renfroe’s attorney alleges) based on motions to add them to hundreds of cases is a real nightmare. It makes you even more disgusted with the reasons given by Cori in her deposition as to why she didn’t tell the Renfroes especially when she has testified she didn’t initially think the Renfroes had done anything wrong  only that they failed to tell them as they didn’t think they could influence the carrier decision (see deposition testimony for exact comments made). There was a 1/4/08 article at www.chron.com saying the carrier also wanted them dismissed but I can’t get the link to work today.

I have a few if not many questions. First don’t you find it strange that the Merlin Law Group calls their group the Katrina Lawyers group – here’s their site then the Scruggs group who continues to use the Scruggs Katrina Group website according to footnotes in the EA Renfroe document but now has changed their group name for the remaining partners to Katrina Litigation Group. Geez- is that confusing or what? I’d be curious how the Merlin group feels about that. They(Katrina Lawyers- Merlin’s group) also recently settled something like 22 cases with this carrier according to news articles. Here is a link to one of them and to the Katrina Group’s website:

http://www.sunherald.com/201/story/277704.html

http://www.katrinalawyers.com/?page_id=2

Merlin’s site interestingly enough has posted a link to my adjuster information blog here. I had read about them as they were part of the reports to the Citizens FL Task force committee and Chip Merlin was very upfront with them giving them heads up information about problems they experienced with claims handing and recommendations for improvement to the task force. Their site at the Merlin main website also has an interesting article I’ve linked to for training about Bad Faith as I was very interested in his comments about carrier requirements to train their adjusters. Anyway- getting off topic there but Katrina Lawyers and Katrina Litigation Group as the leftover Scruggs group is called can become very confusing!

So what is next? More twists and turns no doubt. Again as with everything about this case…it leaves you with more questions than answers. The very sad part is where are the insureds left on this with the changes in lawyers, law firms,etc. I cannot even begin to imagine what they are going through and who will ultimately pay all of attorney fee bills generated by such magnatude of activity. The same goes for the EA Renfroe group. I previously posted a link to Jana Renfroe’s Deposition in a recent blog where she testified at the point of that deposition that they’d already incurred approximately half a million in legal fees. Unbelievable and unfair to a firm who even the Rigsby’s admits did nothing wrong with the engineer reorts. Read on in her deposition how they went to the State Farm manager to “see her reaction” back I think in Sept 05 or some such comments and how late in the game they put the manager’s carrier boss on notice in June 06- AFTER they had already had their data dump weekend. No chance given for anyone to look into the alleged “irregularities” yet the carrier and adjusting firm have quite a nightmare on their hands trying to straighten this out. If someone was truly trying to protect policyholders as she says they were trying to do, why would they continue to work there and “collect” documents from October 2005- June 2006 and not try to report it to someone at the carrier or adjusting firm to investigate what happened versus saying nothing? I sure can’t figure it out. They only left their assignment in June 2006 AFTER they mass copied the documents in June and went on Scruggs payroll allegedly in July 2006. Did you also know she had a Scruggs cellphone for a period of time yet doesn’t know the number but if I recall correctly her mother is one of the folks who called her on the number. Another interesting development is she alleges her hard drive or computer broke along the way and she cannot retrieve any email documents they were asking to be produced if I read it correctly.

If you never read it, go back and read my blog on “Will someone lose the infamous sticky note”. Here is a link. You’ll see it has come up quite a bit again in recent weeks- even in the link to the 1/4/08 document where it says that Scruggs says the originals were given to him (Cori ‘s deposition says she only saw the engineer’s report with the yellow sticky ..ie..a copy)…I point this out again as a reminder that the only place for file activity notes is in the file- in the activity log- not on yellow sticky notes. That one note has created lots of doubt and insinuation on Katrina cases and even made it to ABC news and I think it was even several blogs…all for something so simply avoided by just doing the right thing and posting it on a blog. That is adjuster 101 training not something that ever should of come up by an experienced person handling a file.

From the claim side of things, another interesting thing that came out in Cori’s deposition was the fact due to space shortage that the staff were in one office and the independents had seperate office trailers by firm from the cat flood and wind offices. Maybe we should all learn from this and not segregate the independent and staff adjusters and managers they report to so they can have an opportunity to be more observant. I’d also be very leary of handing out company laptops to folks to take off site after the meetings these whistleblowers had offsite. I know the reality that it is virtually impossible not to do so as they use the systems for estimates in the field,etc when the carrier provides the laptops and access to their systems. So what is the answer? Carriers think it is no longer using independents but what would prevent an employee from doing the same thing (other than loss of salary and benefits of course!). Many experienced managers and adjusters think that this will lead to more limited assignments for independents where they may farm out the inspection and have inside adjusters enter the scope and handle all other aspects of the claim so there wouldnt be a need for independents to access forms and endorsements or have system needs to access data and they can simply go through a staff adjuster for anything they need to reduce the exposure to the carrier systems.

I hear the problem from both sides, carriers staffing up as they don’t want to take chances on independents and really who can blame them after this fiasco BUT that isn’t the answer. Independents will always be necessary on major storms like Katrina. By carriers avoiding their use due to a small percentage of poor independents, they are avoiding the opportunity for training with independents so they can properly handle claims. Listen folks, the independents aren’t happy about what poor performing independents are doing to their potential to work. We are all in this together to properly serve the policyholders, we just need to work harder at making the relationship work and to protect policyholder confidential information. Everything in the news is far from anyone’s intentions but the entire stories are feeding upon each other and we are all trying to understand what happened here as others like me find this all beyond our wildest imagination in a normally routine claims industry.

 I hope one day to find links to other depositions such as for those from the carrier side (although many news reports claim the 5th was plead by some carrier folks) to see what they have to say. Suffice it right now with a copy of this link to a recent filing by the Carrier for a request for documents they want to see on communications with everyone involved. You’ll recognize many of the names from Cori’s deposition:

Here is the order where the carrier requested the Rigsby’s phone records (I’ve got a link to a similar request also for their email records in another link) and Judge’s order on it:

http://media.sunherald.com/smedia/2008/01/09/17/McI_ordr_re_S_depos_Rig_docs.source.prod_affiliate.77.pdf

Here’s a link to another Sunherald document on the State Farm request for production of a very large number of documents and communications between parties who have been involved in this:

http://media.sunherald.com/smedia/2008/01/10/07/McI_S_depo_recs_SF_sks.source.prod_affiliate.77.pdf

I’ll continue to provide updates as more develops involving the carrier, the adjusting firm, or the adjusters or managers but will leave all the attorney musical chairs and indictment information up to those who understand those aspects of these cases better. For now I’ll leave you with this last link ( I knew it would be hard to limit this to 2 links!) which discusses the new attorney’s request for a one month delay and discussing the new order for Scrugg’s deposition to ferret out the relationships due to the fact the Rigsby’s were witnesses and employees and questions as to privileged or not documents:

http://www.sunherald.com/212/story/293383.html

Here’s links to our prior blogs here on the topics mentioned above:

Jana Renfroe’s Deposition: http://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2007/12/18/renfroes-deposition-in-the-rigsby-whistleblower-case-interesting-look-into-their-thoughts-on-the-case/

Another blog on “Just when you think things couldn’t get worse”:

http://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2007/12/14/just-when-you-thought-the-rigsby-ea-renfroe-whistleblower-casescruggs-issues-couldnt-get-worse/

New Developments on these cases

http://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2007/10/15/new-developments-in-the-ea-renfroe-rigsby-scruggs-whistleblower-case/

Scruggs Contempt case (3 of 3 blogs):

http://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2007/08/24/scruggs-contempt-case-developments-update-3-of-3-blogs-on-this-subject/

Special Prosecutors on the case:

http://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2007/08/22/special-prosecutors-file-criminal-contempt-charges-on-ea-renfroerigsby-whisteblower-case/

Will someone lose the infamous sticky note blog:

http://dimechimes.wordpress.com/2007/08/07/will-someone-lose-the-infamous-post-it-note-already/


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,454 other followers