Holy Cow! The McIntosh case, which I have referred to as the Verdun of insurance litigation, has been dismissed by the plaintiffs’ own motion. Given this litigation had long been the scene of intense trench warfare, consuming attorney fee dollars like five NFL offensive linemen chowing down on popcorn shrimp at an all-you-can-eat buffet, it is surprising to see this turn of events.
If you remember, Thomas and Pamela McIntosh v. State Farm is the granddaddy of Katrina litigation, or perhaps more accurately, the Mother of All (Insurance) Battles. This is the case where Kerri Rigsby of Rigsby sisters "whistleblower" fame approved the flood payment to the McIntoshes, and where, strangely enough, the original engineering report on the damage to the home said the damage was from wind, not flood. Alexis "Lecky" King, a State Farm catastrophe team leader, found fault with the report and asked the engineers to re-evaluate. The second report noted the presence of both wind and water damage. Before we move on with the recap, remember that the first report was done by a man named Brian Ford, because his name will come up again. Ford did not work on the second report.
Now, the McIntosh claims file was among those taken by the Rigsby sisters and fed to Dickie Scruggs for use in lawsuits he was bringing and planned to bring against State Farm. This is the case that really started all the public uproar about changed engineering reports, insurer fraud, etc. etc. Keep in mind that Kerri Rigsby and her sister, Cori, who like Kerri was another claims adjuster working with State Farm, both quit and went directly to work for Scruggs in what federal judge L.T. Senter called a "sham" consultant arrangement — but not before they had performed a massive "data dump," where they and some friends spent the weekend copying State Farm claims files to give to Scruggs and his good friend, Mississippi AG Jim Hood. (Don’t forget Hood once called Scruggs his "confidential informant" and helped him play keep away with the documents the Rigsby sisters took. Jeez, talk about backing the wrong horse — if you go to the track with Jim, use him as a reverse barometer.)
You may also remember that the Scruggs Katrina Group, besides "employing" the "whistleblower" Rigsby sisters, also discussed hiring Brian Ford as a consultant. Ford wanted a similar deal to those of the Rigsby sisters, somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-Large per month. Entrepreneurism at work, you say? Maybe. But of course, payments by a party to material witnesses they would be calling to support their case is frowned upon, and in the end, that led Judge Senter to disqualify the Rigsby sisters as witnesses and to disqualify the Scruggs Katrina Group itself as counsel for the McIntoshes.
Their present counsel, the Merlin Law Group, went a different direction with this than Scruggs did. Here’s a copy of the motion, and here’s part of what the motion says:
After engaging in extensive discovery, the Plaintiffs have determined the following:
(a) the McIntosh dwelling was damaged as a result of Hurricane Katrina;
(b) the majority of the damage to the McIntosh dwelling was caused by flooding;
(c) the McIntosh dwelling sustained flood damage of at least $250,000 to the structure and $100,000 to its contents;
(d) State Farm promptly and properly paid Plaintiffs the full policy limits of their flood insurance policy; and
(e) State Farm promptly tendered payment to Plaintiffs for wind damage covered under their homeowners insurance policy prior to the time that the dwelling was inspected by an engineer.
This has got to the most surprising development since those German and English soldiers met on that World War I battlefield for a soccer game during a Christmas truce.
The motion, which was granted yesterday by Judge Senter, dismissed with prejudice all the punitive claims. That left only the contract claims, and my understanding is that those were settled.
I’ll discuss this more later.