Hurricane Katrina Whistleblower Lawsuit Goes Back to Court with State Farm’s Appeal
Insurance company State Farm was ordered earlier this year to pay $3 million in legal fees and damages for defrauding the federal government after a judge ruled in favor of two sisters who filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the company. Now, State Farm will return to court to appeal the financial ruling.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments in the whistleblower appeal to begin on February 5th.
A federal judge in Mississippi ruled against the insurance broker and in favor of the whistleblowers, Kerri and Cori Rigsby, who worked as contractors in Alabama after the devastating August 2005 hurricane. They filed their whistleblower lawsuit in 2006.
The jury in the whistleblower case found in 2013 that State Farm avoided covering policyholder’s losses by blaming damage on the storm surge, which was covered by federal flood insurance. That claim forced the government to cover the losses of those who did not actually suffer damage or loss related to Hurricane Katrina.
The Rigsbys had documents from State Farm showing that the policy of defrauding the US government was widespread along the Mississippi coast.
Although the sisters aimed to take several policyholders’ cases to court, the judge took only one complaint – Thomas and Pamela McIntosh, whose home was lost to the storm – because the Rigsby sisters had first-hand knowledge of how the claim was handled.
State Farm denied any wrongdoing during the whistleblower trial, and the appeal continues that denial.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help Protect Whistleblowers with the False Claims Act
“Qui Tam” are the first words of a Latin clause referring to the plaintiff as “one who sues as much for the state as for himself or herself.”
The False Claims Act, also known as the Whistleblower Act or a qui tam lawsuit, is intended to encourage people to come forward with information and assist the government in stopping the waste of Government funds.
It is a provision of the Federal Civil False Claims Act that allows a private citizen to file a suit, in the name of the U.S. Government, charging fraud by government contractors and other entities that receive or use government funds. Bolstered by amendments passed by Congress in 1986, the law has armed private citizens who have independent and direct knowledge of fraud, whether financial institution fraud or Medicare fraud, with a weapon to prosecute government contractors and others who are defrauding the Government.
Common whistleblower actions include:
- Medicare fraud,
- defense contractor fraud, and
- other kinds of fraud.
If you are personally aware of a fraud that has been committed by your current or former employer, a competitor or otherwise, contact the Qui Tam attorneys at the Strom Law Firm today for a no cost consultation to discuss the facts of your case and whether filing a whistleblower lawsuit may be appropriate. We understand the complexity of the False Claims Act, and can help you with your case. We offer free, confidential consultations so contact us for help today. 803.252.4800.