I’m guessing Allstate policyholders’ premiums are going to go up.
Here’s a summary of an interesting news report from yesterday’s Kansas City Star. An Allstate insured is suing Allstate in Missouri because the company failed to pay on his policy after he struck and injured another motorist. The insured, Mr. Aldridge, requested documents relating to a consultant’s report in the case, and the trial court ordered Allstate to produce them.
Allstate appealed all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court ruled that Allstate must produce the consultant’s papers. Allstate is still refusing, so the trial court levied fines. Reportedly, the fines are $25,000 per day for the refusal.
Here is the link: www.kansascity.com/news/local/v-print/story/409641.html
Allstate seems to have concluded that it can ignore the rulings and orders of the courts. It doesn’t like the result, so it will just refuse to comply. The fines don’t seem to be a problem. After all, they can just pass them through to policyholders.
When an injured person gets a large verdict, the media machine for the tort reform industry throws out terms. You’ve heard them: lawsuit lottery, frivolous lawsuit, and judicial hellhole. So what do they call it when Allstate simply refuses to comply with an order of the court? I don’t hear the American Tort Reform Association putting out any press releases on this issue. Nor do I hear the politicians who hate the jury system system condemning Allstate. All I hear is a variation on the golden rule. As in, “We’ve got the gold, so we make the rules.”
I’ll be watching carefully for that next series of Allstate’s commercials to hear them explain how they take care of policyholders. Who knows? Maybe they’ll explain this one in a new TV ad with that guy who tells us about Allstate’s stand.
I can hardly wait.
David F. Sugerman
According to an Associated Press news report, the Washington Commission on Judicial Conduct censured Clark County Superior Court Judge John P. Wulle. In a public training session in Los Angeles last year, Judge Wulle reportedly referred to one speaker as, “the black gay guy.” At the same forum, when the Clark County team–including Judge Wulle–was awarded a star for their performance, Judge Wulle loudly declaimed that he didn’t need a star because, “I’m not a Jew.”
I imagine it’s tough being a judge because you’re held to a higher standard. But there’s good reason for that. It’s hard to imagine that if you’re black, gay or Jewish, you would be eager to have Judge Wulle decide your case.
Judge Wulle was ordered to undergo alcohol evaluation–some witnesses at the conference suggested that he smelled of alcohol. Judge Wulle disputes that alcohol was involved, saying instead that he had taken cough medicine. I have to say that as a trial lawyer, I would have derived more comfort from an admission of alcohol abuse, as it seems a lot less chilling than thinly concealed racial, religious and sexual orientation prejudices.
According to the news report, Judge Wulle was initially dismissive of complaints about his conduct. While he has since issued an apology of sorts–as in I didn’t mean to offend anyone–it seems like there’s a shortage of insight and willingness to confront some nastiness. Judge Wulle must also undergo judicial ethics and diversity training. Here’s hoping it opens his eyes, as everyone deserves a judge who can be fair.
David F. Sugerman