David Rossmiller sketches in some background behind the state of Florida's move to yank Allstate's license to write new auto business, not long after its governor announced that he was hiring trial lawyers to make life difficult for home insurers:
If you haven't kept up with the Florida insurance market, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has been in a long-running battle with insurers over the state's high property insurance rates. A year ago, Florida lawmakers passed the latest in the state's legislative and regulatory "fixes" to the system -- officials pushed Florida's state-backed property insurer further into the market as a competitor, and added billions to a state fund for a reinsurance pool for the private market. All this, and more, was supposed to lead to rates coming down, but whoops, they didn't. Instead most insurers have filed for big rate increases, sending Crist into episodes of table-pounding.
Earlier: here, here, here, etc.
David Rossmiller helps sort out the incredible multiple instances of lawyer-switching among the Scruggs defendants in recent days, which have led to speculation that the "united defense" posture adopted at first by the indictees may not last much longer.
Via Rossmiller: On Thursday, Jan. 17, the Federalist Society is holding a lunchtime panel discussion (PDF) entitled: "Is the Mississippi Bar Doing Enough To Combat Corruption and To Protect the Honor and Integrity of the Profession?" Timing could scarcely be better as rumors are flying fast of potentially major developments in the Scruggs prosecution. And for those who are following one of the most curious threads in the Scruggs backstory -- the matter of P.L. Blake, who appears to have been steered as much as $50 million of the tobacco settlement for services that include clipping newspaper articles and having a sense of where the Mississippi legislature was going -- Tim Kalich has a piece in the McComb Enterprise-Journal sketching things out nicely.
"Gov. Charlie Crist has asked three prominent trial lawyers to review the property insurance industry's compliance with an 11-month-old reform and recommend whether or not to sue the insurers," reports Aaron Deslatte of the Orlando Sentinel. Prof. Grace wonders if Gov. Crist has been taking tutelage from Mississippi AG Hood.
David Rossmiller (who continues to have must-read Scruggs coverage above and beyond what the newspapers and other legal blogs are reporting), has Randy Maniloff's Top 10 cases of 2007.
The bribery charges stemming from the fee dispute have been getting 99 percent of the attention, but as David Rossmiller relates (and earlier here), there are some major developments as well in the thicket of misconduct charges arising from Scruggs Katrina Group's remarkably uninhibited tactics in its litigation against State Farm. One highlight: a smoking-gunnish note by an engineer cooperating with SKG "recount[ing] an apparent conversation between Special Assistant Attorney General Courtney Schloemer and an SKG attorney: 'they agreed that a criminal conviction [if one could be obtained against State Farm] could help civil cases.'" Some further discussions here, here, here, and here.
Also, the Wall Street Journal's free OpinionJournal.com site has now posted a no-subscription-needed link to my Saturday op-ed on the Scruggs indictments. It can be found here.
My op-ed in Saturday's Journal on the Dickie Scruggs case is here. For more on the indictments and their aftermath, check out my regular updates at Overlawyered and David Rossmiller's at Insurance Coverage Blog. You'll find much more on highlights of Mr. Scruggs's litigation career at both sites, and also right here at Point of Law, where there are special categories devoted to product liability, regulation through litigation and insurance law. In this post from March, we took issue with the New York Times's lionizing treatment of the Oxford, Miss. litigator.
As I said in a post earlier today, just when you think things in Mississippi Katrina litigation can't possibly get any stranger, there's something new that tops all the rest. According to the Jackson Clarion Ledger, well-known attorney Dickie Scruggs has been indicted for alleged involvement in a conspiracy to bribe a judge in a dispute over how to divide some $26.5 million in attorney fees. The fees were received as a result of mass settlements of Hurricane Katrina litigation earlier this year. Yesterday, you may recall, the FBI and federal prosecutors raided Scruggs' law offices. I'll be posting updates as the story develops at Insurance Coverage Law Blog.
The Mess in Mississippi keeps getting messier, and just when you think Hurricane Katrina litigation can't get any stranger, something comes along to prove you wrong. Yesterday FBI agents and federal prosecutors served a search warrant on the Oxford law offices of tort baron Dickie Scruggs, who has been in the thick of Katrina litigation of all stripes, including a criminal contempt of court prosecution aimed at him by a federal judge. Once the feds invited themselves in, they stayed all day. Exactly what they were looking for, whether they found it and what case this is connected to, no one is saying. Scruggs' attorney denies any involvement by Scruggs or his firm in wrongdoing, and appears to deny any connection of the search to the criminal prosecution. More at Insurance Coverage Law Blog.
In yet another of the increasingly bizarre twists and turns in Katrina-spawned litigation, in USA v. Scruggs, the prosecution of Dickie Scruggs for criminal contempt of court, Scruggs filed a motion asking all federal judges in the Northern District of Alabama to recuse themselves, and they did.
David has more on developments here, here, and, especially, here, as well as a post on a more or less separate instance of Scrugg-duggery in which the hard drive of one of his adversaries somehow found its way into his hands. The WSJ law blog also comments.
Plus: For those with WSJ subscriber access, the peerless James Q. Wilson, one of the pre-eminent social scientists of our era (and also -- who knew? -- a former director of State Farm) tackles the Katrina litigation: "A Real Insurance Fraud".