The Florida legislature has passed, and Gov. Ron De Santis indicates he will sign, a bill reforming the operation of the policyholder feature known as assignment of benefits (AOB), widely criticized for encouraging inflated claims and tactical filings meant to obtain lawyers’ fees. [Amy O’Connor, Insurance Journal] In anticipation of likely savings, state-owned insurer of last resort Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has scaled back a 25 percent requested rate increase to 10 percent. [The Insurer] Earlier on assignment of benefits here and here.
From Reddit via @SheldonGilbert: “Obvious attempt at insurance fraud caught on camera”
“…How can we help you commit fraud today?” [Coyote]
Related, an entry of mine from Twitter’s #ExplainaFilmPlotBadly:
— Walter Olson (@walterolson) December 13, 2015
- “Why Morristown officers seized the cars in the first place is unclear.” Maybe because it enabled an officer to pocket $6,000? [Tennessee: Watchdog] Louisiana town getting 87% of its revenue from traffic tickets has 188 people, 5 cop cars [Marshall Project via Balko] For second time, this time in Chicago case, former CEO of red light camera company cops a federal plea [Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica]
- Opposition from law enforcement shoots down asset forfeiture reform in California [Scott Shackford/Reason, more] Despite talk of being friendlier to forfeiture reform, Department of Justice fed talking points to reform opponents in California battle [TechDirt] “Most Americans don’t realize it’s this easy for police to take your cash” [Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post “WonkBlog”]
- Other side of the ledger: how governments pay for claims against law enforcement [Joanna Schwartz, SSRN via TortsProf]
- Louisville traffic school allows violators to get cases “dismissed without having to pay court costs… and generates revenue to operate the county attorney’s office” [Insurance Journal]
- Lawsuit alleges private probation companies in Tennessee abusing power, free-marketers should be as worried as anyone else about misalignment of private, public incentives [Radley Balko, earlier]
- Odd how feds can prevent someone resisting extradition from contesting asset forfeiture [Trevor Burrus/Cato, Ilya Somin on Kim Dotcom case]
- Insurers often pool funds to support insurance fraud prosecution efforts, but critics say Travis County, Texas prosecutors are needlessly close to a single company [Texas Tribune]
In Altoona, Pa., a private philanthropic group assisted by local businesses has funneled millions of dollars to local prosecutors to go after illegal drug cases [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette] Leaders of the group, called Operation Our Town, “said they don’t pressure prosecutors, and only publish the annual arrest and prosecution numbers as a way to raise funds.” Still, the practice sheds light on the changing status of privately assisted prosecutions, which were common in the Nineteenth Century but then came under an ethical cloud:
“It’s pretty much disappeared, in part because we want disinterested prosecutors who answer to the public, and not to individuals,” said Bruce A. Green, director of the Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University in New York.
Decisions by courts in California and Tennessee, among other places, have disapproved of private subsidies to prosecutors in cases where private parties had themselves been victimized by a crime or wanted to see more enforcement of obscenity laws. On the other hand, insurance and banking industry financial participation in efforts to investigate crimes like insurance fraud and bank robbery is widely accepted, although some trial lawyers have raised questions about insurers’ role.
In Key West, Fla., last year, nonprofit groups steered funds to underwrite a local prosecutor assigned to handle drunken driving cases. The arrangement died after defense attorney Jiulio Margalli sued, saying it violated state law.
“Do you want the motivation to be justice,” asked Mr. Margalli, “or do you want the motivation of the prosecutor to be a guilty verdict so that that [office] could continue to receive funding from the organization who paid them?”
After two insurance companies noticed patterns of suspicious claims associated with the same Philadelphia body shop, 41 persons were charged in what prosecutors say was a multi-faceted array of fraud schemes involving the participation of insurance adjusters, police, a municipal official and tow truck drivers. “According to investigators, Galati Sr. routinely created false accounts of vehicles being damaged by accidents involving falling objects, deer, and other animals to increase amounts received for insurance claims. Investigators say Galati Sr. went as far as to have employees gather and store deer blood, hair and carcasses in the shop’s garage to be used as props in photos that were later submitted with insurance claims.” Other misconduct charged includes deliberate crashing and vandalism of vehicles, and the obtaining of a $1.8 million contract with the city of Philadelphia for which investigators claim Galati’s shop lacked the contract requirements. [NBC Philadelphia, Auto Body News]
- Faking a Sept. 11 injury would seem basically as disgraceful as faking a war injury, no? [NY Post, Legal Ethics Forum; earlier on Ground Zero compensation here, here, here, here, here (2008 fraud), here, etc. ]
- “Illegal Aliens May Get License to Practice Law in California” [Volokh, earlier] A curious companion headline from only three and a half years ago, and also from California: “Government seeks forfeiture, managers’ prison time for hiring illegal aliens”
- A look back at the Keller Satanic-ritual-abuse case from Texas [Slate]
- Piacentile v. Amgen case “offers a little window into the ugly side of the qui tam business” [Steve McConnell, Drug and Device Law; related from same blog on case of U.S. ex rel. Watson v. King-Vassel, here and here]
- “Father and Daughter Sentenced in $1.5 Million Insurance Fraud Case” [San Diego D.A.]
- Michael McConnell in the Yale Law Journal on religious freedom;
- Child support law madness, Virginia division [Hans Bader]
The price of dashboard cameras has dropped to the point of an impulse purchase, but they still haven’t become common in the United States among motorists, those in law enforcement aside. They hold promise as a way of improving the allocation of fault in collisions, and especially in curbing varieties of insurance fraud such as the “swoop-and-squat,” but Popular Mechanics surely hasn’t thought matters through when it asserts, “In the real world, it means you win and the other guy loses in a dispute.” At least if the other guy was in the wrong and the camera was pointed in the right direction…
- In Motor City of “Detropia,” sole remaining industrial-scale activity is the grinding of axes [Asron Renn, Urbanophile]
- Challenge to independent-contractor status: “Strippers Win $13 Million Class Settlement” [Courthouse News Service]
- “Homeowners Who Spent $220K in Legal Fees to Fight $2K HOA Lawn Bill Win Court Case After 11 Years” [ABA Journal]
- Logical skills no prerequisite for brief-drafting job with Florida attorney general’s office [Volokh]
- Death of officer in high-speed chase leads to notice of tort claim against NJ town [South Jersey Times]
- “Man Who Made Fake Dead Cat Insurance Claim to Be Sentenced; May Have Tried Same Stunt with Fake Dead Parrot” [Seattle Weekly]
- Dallas lawyer who sued TV station over not passing along referral calls is now in another spot of bother [SE Texas Record]