Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Star Chamber - State Farm Insurance Compnay

In England, the Star Chamber (Camera stellata) reigned from 1487 to 1641 when it was abloished. It wasn’t a tribunal of justice. Rather, it was political and not unlike many courts of today.

I’ve litigated against insurance companies for 30 years. The fraud and deceit that goes on daily in civil courtrooms across America is appalling. Until recently, most judges were on the side of working folks; they actually looked out for workingmen and workingwomen.

Not so any more. Thing have changed.

The federal courts make it expensive and difficult for workingmen and workingwomen to find justice there. For all practical purposes, federal courts purposely skew the rules in favor of insurance companies and big corporations. Judges in the federal system are appointed for life, so there’s no way to get them out.

Insurance companies and big corporations are slowly dominating the state courts. Like their federal counterparts, state courts are a sanctuary for bad faith corporate and insurance practices.

From time to time my Star Chamber segment will show case the abuses that stem from “pocketbook justice,” where money rather than justice reigns.

This posting of Star Chamber looks at State Farm Insurance Company.

State Farm Insurance Companies is being pounded in Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and rightly so. State Farm’s been accused of hiring an engineering firm that “fixed” its reports to support State Farm’s defense. See: Documents That Suggest Fraud by Insurance Companies in the Handling of Katrina Wind and Water Claims

Now, it’s inconceivable that courts in America let State Farm get away with this type of unfair and unjust behavior, but they do. Does America have an independent judiciary or a star chamber?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Federal Judge Attacks Middle-Class Rights to live healthy.

MONEY...MONEY...MONEY! In what can only be described as an attack on middle-class rights, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel rejected class certification because the plaintiffs’ lawyers told the plaintiffs what their rights were. That’s right – a federal judge refused to let plaintiffs file as a group because the plaintiffs lawyer told them that they had rights.

The shame of Judge Patel’s decision is that, everyday in boardrooms across America, insurance and corporate lawyers advise corporate cartels of their rights and conservative federal judges let it pass. Here, Judge Patel’s decision is insidious for two reasons:

First, Oreck Direct LLC, a Louisiana profiteer, makes questionable air purifiers that affect health of 70,000 Californians. In effect, the Judge said that the only way that the plaintiffs’ lawyer could represent 70,000 members of the class was if 70,000 people called the lawyers’ office to seek representation.

Secondly, the Federal Judge objected to the plaintiffs’ lawyer telling anyone that Oreck air purifiers didn’t work. This theory has devastating implication for consumers. The fake corporate science that dominates the boardrooms of America will reign until someone dies or becomes ill.

The message is now clear: If there's a defective product in America, lawyers can’t tell the public about it! Thanks, Judge Patel, the middle-class really needs that kind of protection.

And, unless members of a class individually contact the lawyer, he can’t represent them. Westrup Klick LLP, the plaintiffs' lawyer, should appeal Judge Patel's draconian decision and help restore the rights of the middle class to live a healthy life.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

State Farm’s hard-nose practices are catching up with the insurer.

It’s not uncommon for insurers like State Farm to be unreasonable with small claims. The tactic is simple: Resist the small claim as much as possible. Because of the amount of money involved, most lawyers will decline representation. In the end, the insured will have no recourse but to go away. More often than not, the tactic works. However, it failed recently in a Palm Beach County Courthouse.

Charles Turner Sr. lost two sons as a result of an auto accident. The accident was caused by the negligence of one of his sons. Rather than pay Mr. Turner the $10,000, which was State Farm's policy limits, State Farm forced Mr. Turner to go to trial and to endure the humiliation of arguing that one of his son's caused the death of the other son.

Mr. Turner's attorney, Harry Shevin, argued that State Farm was in bad faith by forcing Mr. Turner to file suit to recover money for the loss of one of his sons. After 20 minutes of deliberation, a Palm Beach County jury agreed and entered a $10 million judgment against State Farm.

This type tactic is not uncommon among insurers like State Farm and Allstate, both of whom have a rich history of dirty trial tactics. Only punitive damages will cause insurers to stop these bad faith practices. Read: Trial looms over millions in teen's death

Monday, May 07, 2007

Diamond Jim Donelon where are you? Insurers are Milking the System.

Diamond Jim Donelon’s asleep at the wheel.

Recently, Mississippi attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs told members of the Louisiana Association for Justice that insurance companies are ripping off the National Flood Insurance Program by altering engineering reports to falsely conclude that rising water, not wind, caused damages from Hurricane Katrina.

That’s right: RIPPING OFF!

Scruggs explained, "They instructed the adjusters to max out the flood (insurance)." Scruggs warned, "Given what we know now about State Farm, it would in inconceivable if it weren't going on in Louisiana, too."

Diamond Jim’s supposed to be looking out for Louisiana policyholders. But, he hasn’t heard the warning.

As Louisiana’s Insurance Commissioner, why hasn’t Diamond Jim investigated State Farm and other Louisiana insurers to determine if they’ve altered engineering reports to falsely conclude that rising water, not wind, caused damages from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita?

Well, I apologize for such a na├»ve question. We know why Diamond Jim hasn't done anything. Don’t we?

Diamond Jim’s playing “Mickey the Dunce.” Insurance companies are substantial contributors to the Republican Party. Republican heavy-hitters have told Diamond Jim that insurance companies are off limits.

Here’s how it’s done in other states. In 2003 it was discovered that 21st Century Insurance Group secretly contributed $950,000 to the California Republican Party and 15 county committees just before the 2002 general election.

People in Louisiana are still hurting from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita! So what does Diamond Jim propose? A corporate welfare scheme. He wants to pay insurance companies to do business here! Hey, Diamond Jim, don't pay insurance companies a penny! Do your job and investigate them!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Appeals court restores UCI liver transplant patient's medical negligence lawsuit

A lawsuit against a University of California hospital was reinstated after an appeals court ruled that the plaintiff's argument "demonstrated good cause to restore the case." The palintiff accepted and then later refused a $50,000 settlement for her lawsuit, opting instead to restore her case. The Associated Press, San Diego Union Tribune 04/17/2007 Read Article: San Diego Union Tribune

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Our Soldiers Need Good Lawyers

Few among the American public know that members of the U.S. military are barred from suing for medical malpractice and negligence by the government. That’s hard to believe isn’t it. So, let me repeat it: Members of the U.S. military are barred from suing for medical malpractice and negligence by the government.

"Whether it is a military doctor cutting off the wrong leg or a military gasoline station cutting a brake line, military personnel are not allowed to seek legal relief as other citizens can."

A series of rulings by the Supreme Court in 1950—known as the Feres Doctrine—created the loss of legal protections for members of the military even in peacetime.

Congress needs to amend the Federal Tort Claims Act to end this "disastrous" Feres Doctrine. Jonathan Turley, USA Today 04/12/2007 Read Article: USA Today

Johnson & Johnson Recall Children's Listerine

Four million bottles of plaque-detecting Listerine for children were recalled after Johnson & Johnson discovered the mouthwash was contaminated by bacteria. Preservatives in the rinse did not kill four types of bacteria, which could pose a risk to consumers with weak immune systems.

The bacteria found included a strain that can cause urinary tract infections, blood poisoning and respiratory infections. Yuck!

Bloomberg News , The Dallas Morning News 04/12/2007 Read Article: The Dallas Morning News

Ford Escape SUVs Recalled Because of Engine Fires

More than 500,000 Ford Escape vehicles are being recalled after 50 reports of engine fires. The company is notifying dealers and owners that the fires are being caused by corroded brake parts. Owners will not be charged if the anti-lock braking system component requires replacement. Bloomberg News , The New York Times 04/12/2007 Read Article: The New York Times