Scruggs withdraws motion for class certification in Katrina-related Woullard case

Now this is an interesting development.  The Scruggs Law Group yesterday withdrew its motion for conditional certification and preliminary settlement approval for Woullard v. State FarmA pdf of the notice of withdrawal is here.  You may recall that Woullard is the case where Scruggs and State Farm were seeking to certify a class of some 35,000 residents of southern Mississippi residents who had not filed lawsuits.  The class action would have been immediately settled upon certification, with a review and arbitration process set up to handle claims.  Judge Senter earlier refused to certify the class and approve the settlement out of concerns for procedural fairness, and after reading his opinion at the time, I said it was going to be a real uphill fight to satisfy his concerns.  After a recent hearing by Senter to reconsider the matter, Scruggs apparently agrees. Thanks to one of my fine friends in Mississippi for tipping me to this development. 

UPDATE: Here’s a story by John O’Brien of LegalNewsline about the Scruggs withdrawal notice, quoting me.

SECOND UPDATE: Here’s another story, by Lavonne Kuykendall of Dow Jones Newswires, also quoting me. 



Filed under First Party Insurance

5 Responses to Scruggs withdraws motion for class certification in Katrina-related Woullard case

  1. Kim D

    This is quite a twist, given the recent Williams case. Your previous comment, “The effect on goodwill towards State Farm as a result of that settlement thus far appears pretty close to zero, as far as I can see. I’d be curious to know whether within State Farm some folks are looking at those that advocated the settlement like they are the guy that came up with the idea for New Coke. “, would leave some wondering is there any reason for State Farm to propose a new settlement at this point? What are your thoughts?
    By the way, love the blog and your unbiased view of these cases.

  2. Some few weeks after the settlement fell apart because Senter wouldn’t approve it, I read that 11 people in the proposed class had filed lawsuit against State Farm. Since then, I don’t know how many followed their lead, and I don’t know whether their claims are any good or not, but one tendency some have noted about certain insurers — and I am not necessarily including State Farm in this group — is that they go into litigation like Vikings landing at Lindesfarne, and fight and fight and fight, and then cave and overpay at settlement. The point is that insurers crave certainty in evaluation of risk — one upside for State Farm would be to corrall the group of potential litigants and feed them into a process where the individual upside for claimants is not all that large. On its face, you’d figure this would discourage many people, because people hate process, it wears them out psychologically. Which is one very important role a lawyer fills, is to maintain morale during the ups and downs of litigation. So I can see why State Farm might still want this, even considering that their was no cap on the amount State Farm theoretically could pay. So even though there might not sound like there is much certainty for State Farm, I can see in a macro sense some benefits of certainty. However, I would expect they also looked hard at brand protection, and if so, this result has not yet come about. One can never tell in the long run, though. Also, thanks for the nice words.

  3. Jason

    Hi David,
    I am 3L at the University of Maryland Law School and am working on a seminar paper on the anticoncurrent causation issue currently before the 5th Circuit in the Tuepker case. I found the link you posted to State Farm’s appellate brief filed on January 31, 2007 and am very grateful. Do you know whether the plaintiffs have filed their brief yet, and if so, could you provide a link if you have it? Thanks in advance for your help.

  4. Hi Jason, I believe Tuepker was due to file a brief a month after State Farm, although that is just from memory. But I will check. If the brief has been filed, I’ll do a story on it sometime within a week. Have a great time with the rest of your third year and keep in touch.

  5. Around the web, March 20

    Updating some ongoing Point of Law stories: New Jersey Supreme Court hears oral argument on Engineers Vioxx class certification (Apr. 3; Apr. 5; Oct. 16) [AP/Business Week] No certification in Milberg Weiss-led securities suit because of firm’s miscond…