Special Prosecutors file Criminal Contempt Charges on EA Renfroe/Rigsby Whisteblower Case

August 22, 2007

We will expand on this post later today but here are links to  yesterday’s breaking news stories on the EA Renfroe Adjusting firm/ Rigsby sister whistleblower case. The appointed Special Prosecutors in the case filed criminal contempt charges against Scruggs 8/21/07:

Here is a link to the AP Press news article: click here

Here is David Rossmillers’s Law Blog on the news: click here (see 8/22/07 entry)

Here is an August 15th Birmingham news story that the Rigsby sisters may also still face prosecution: click here

If you aren’t up to date on the recent appointments of the Special Prosecutors, here is a great Findlaw summary of this from August 3rd: click here

Here was the Judge’s order naming them: click here

Here is a transcript of the Contempt hearing  March 2007 with Judge Acker: click here


While this case is coming back to the front line news again, this is a good time to remind you of discovery and activity log notes. If you missed it, view this blog on the infamous sticky note arising through many articles and court documents on this whisteblower case. Click here.

I will be updating this with more news on the issue later today. In the meantime, Fox news is reporting that TS Felix should be named in the next few days and I’ll post the first news stories on that shortly along with updates on the Midwest flooding claim stats.


Update on this topic 8/23/07:

Some of the first news reports are coming in on the announcements and here’s one of the most detailed  from this WSJ report providing comments from Scrugg’s attorney indicating they are filing to have the charges dismissed. Click here. Here is also Peter Lattman’s WSJ law blog of  8/22/07 Click here.

Back to some of the more important news stories and documents posted over the past year on this topic(sorry I didn’t get back to this yesterday!) here is a list of items adjusters may wish to read to familarize themselves with the history on this case:

Jan 07 Claims Journal article summarizing the grand jury probe: here

2007 AL spring article on the initial contempt hearing: here

Sun Herald article explaining Rigsby allegations, carriers involved, and info on unsealing the court case: here . Note that the Sun Herald has run numerous stories on the case but the links we have show many of those articles are no longer available. Several can still be found on their site by going to search in their archives.

Tort blog about the unsealing of the documents: here

One of the most informative documents on allegations in this First Amended Complaint on this False Claim Act document. This document states that the Rigsby’s reported this case in 4/06 to the US Attorney then gathered the documents in 6/06 with the Rigsby’s then notifying the carrier after the “dump weekend” as it’s referred to in other documents. This document says they then left for vacation and upon return to the carrier’s office were “escorted out of the bldg” (gee- what did they expect!). It goes on to say in 9/06 that Renfroe initiated suit to return the documents. There is much info in this document to again include a copy of that infamous sticky note (drives me nuts..it’s every where on the net and an excellent example of why an adjuster should NEVER use anything other than the appropriate activity log to document file activities..adjuster 101 stuff!). This report also discusses Haag, the carriers, and the employees  alleged to have shifted damages to wind, Xact Total, and much more. If you don’t read anything else, read this whistleblower’s summary of the activities they allege took place. Here.

Here’s a still current link to the Sun Herald summary of the case when it was unsealed..here

Scruggs group post of the exhibit on the EA Renfroe Code of Conduct form here

You might want to follow this current Clarion Ledger new poll -the results are to be published 8/24 asking if the whistleblowers should be prosecuted..thus far today it is showing only 2% say yes and 87% say no..here

Here’s the Scruggs June 07 Press release on the RICO case they filed on these allegations: here

Here is the RICO complaint filed 6/20/07 (101 pages of interesting reading) here

If you are not aware of it- here is a seperate whistleblower case we are also following making similar allegations of movement of damages to NFIP vs the wind carrier . Here is an article from a NOLA Times Picayne blog summarizing this 2nd whistleblower case: here

Thanks to this posting on the Insurance Coverage blog- here is the Complaint on the unsealed second whistleblower case: here

This complaint document names the names of many carrier employees/independents? Make sure to view the treble damages requests beginning at approximately page 88 here. We’ll try to get to a blog entry discussing errors and omissions coverage and things an adjuster needs to do for coverage to protect themselves against such a complaint as many new adjusters are not aware of their need for insurance coverage protection.

This is a large document at 242 pages which are the exhibit documents Scruggs group had posted. Click here. All adjusters should read this document to see what happens during discovery with your letters and file documents. They can become part of suit documents as they did on this case. This document discusses the names on many different cases involved in the allegations and provides exhibits of many carrier documents. Trainees who don’t know what correspondence on various issues should look like could learn alot from viewing this entire document to learn about coverage denial letters, reservation of rights letters, statements of loss,etc.

Another interesting WSJ blog from 6-21-07 by Peter Lattman “The Thrilla in Pascagoula”. This blog gives alot of details of further actions filed trying to have Scruggs removed from the case. Here

Here’s a good www.nola.com article on the 2nd whistleblower case: here

Here’s a Mobile Press Register article quoting Pilot Adjusting Co’s attorney: here

Here is a National Underwriter story summarizing the case: here

This National Underwriter article lists all the names of the adjusting firms and parties alleged to have shifted damages to flood (the whistleblower names have still not been revealed that I am aware of): here

This article posted again here to make a point…this explains what the whistleblowers stand to gain by making such allegations: here

Congressman Gene Taylor’s posted information on alleged wrong doing by carrier’s: here

Here is a summary 7/6/07 in the Bloomberg news on the 2nd whistleblower case: here. Note the quotes by various carriers commenting on the case..I believe this might be same link but here it is if not: here

Here is another article 7/9/07 saying the judge withdrew request for federal intervention on the whistleblower case: here

Here are 3 things you should read on this Insurance Coverage blog entries/attachments on the case here, here , and here on the Judge withdrawing the request. These documents include Homeland Security reports and other important documents you need to read to learn where these cases are going.

Here is another important document by the above blog which is a Branch consultants document on the 2nd whistleblower case. Here Note the alleged 4 whistleblowers are still not named in this document. I’m curious if these folks are still out adjusting claims?

While trying to understand all of these court documents and issues mentioned in these cases, I did some research on the False Claims Act and was interested to learn that the Acts vary by state. Some states allow only for False Claims act cases on health claim issues. Here is  state by state information found at www.phillipsandcohen.com website located while researching these acts:

Here is the one with the state links: here

And this one provides excellent information on the False Claim Act in general: here

So where is this all going? I can’t pretend to know. We’d love to have an attorney interpret all of this for us if we have any volunteers but here are some things you may find very interesting. First of all- while doing this research, I found this report on the web which PRE DATES KATRINA by the GAO office in April 2005 in testimony to the house. Make sure to make note of the number of flood certified adjusters at less than 5,000(now can you imagine what this means for all the current Midwest flooding today?). Here it is. Note this report also says that only 4% of flood files were reinspected. So let’s move forward to the GAO testimony over 2 years later in this June 2007 Testimony about the inability of FEMA to assess the wind damages vs flood damages found:  here  Combine these 2 GAO reports with a review of the September 2005 directive by Fema to WYO(Write your own) carriers with expedited instructions on handling flood claims found : here and the single adjuster concept for flood claim handling found in this FEMA procedures document: here sure makes you wonder if the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. Is there any wonder there is so much confusion?

If you missed our blog on more current info on the fee issues on the wind vs water, take some time to read this earlier blog on Adjuster Fees in the news found: here

I am posting all of this information in the hope that adjusters will learn to understand how very important proper documentation is in their claim files. All of these suits, news articles, congressional hearings,etc drive home the very point that your file is subject to discovery and much discussion in press articles.

You cannot take this lightly and it is of utmost importance in today’s environment that you properly protect yourself with E and O coverage and other coverage  you may need. Many adjusters are leaving their E and O needs to the adjusting firm but those I’ve asked have never even considered asking the adjusting firm for a copy of the E and O policy which is alleged to protect them. Do you know what coverage you have? What are the E and O limits that protect you? What are the policy terms? Who is the carrier and the policy number? Is there a deductible? Does the E and O policy protect you if you are one of the adjusters named in one of these suits? Does the E and O policy provide defense costs for you? We’ve had an adjuster advise us this past year that his personal attorney fees to defend an allegation were not covered and over 40K over a 2 year period. I am not an  E and O expert but you need to talk to your adjusting firms to determine how you will be protected BEFORE this happens to you and get the answers to these important questions whether you are providing your own E and O or they are and deducting it from your fee bill payments.

This CNN Money article says a January 31, 2008 deadline has been set on the whistleblower case: here so I imagine that there is much more to learn about these cases in the next weeks and months ahead.

Here is a link to info on E and O posted on the National Association of Catastrophe Adjusters website you might want to look into if you are not presently covered: here There is also good info here on health coverage. Speaking of that..I’ll end this long blog entry directing you back to this important blog entry about FL having open enrollment for health insurance benefits for self employed and independent contractors during the month of August 2007 so you don’t miss the deadline to apply should you also need this important coverage: here

See you tomorrow!