OK, that brings us up to the new news — Judge Senter dismissed the fraud claim in McIntosh against State Farm and also against the Rigsbys’ former employer, Renfroe, an independent contractor claims adjusting service. He said even if the McIntoshes proved their allegations, it wouldn’t amount to fraud because they failed to meet the element of reliance. They didn’t rely on State Farm’s alleged underpayment of wind damage, instead they rejected State Farm’s claims adjusting and sued. Renfroe, which allegedly aided and abetted fraud, couldn’t be liable if there was no fraud as a matter of law in the first place, the judge said.
This ruling is not the same thing as saying there is nothing wrong. Senter said if the allegations were proven, it would constitute bad faith and would justify punitive damages. So he made no factual finding, for example, that the amount of wind payment was correct, or that amounts owed for wind damage were not wrongfully pushed off on the federal flood payment. Still, this is a significant development in this case, and in Katrina litigation. Part of the continuing deScruggsification of remaining Katrina cases.
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