Court hears insurance staff counsel oral argument April 1, 2002 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Court hears insurance staff counsel oral argument Senior EditorAn 11th Circuit judge who ordered insurance company staff attorneys not to use law firm type names on their letterhead was acting within his scope, or exceeded his authority, by interfering by promulgating procedural and lawyer conduct rules.The Supreme Court heard those conflicting arguments March 8 during oral arguments on the case. It also heard both sides say further study could be helpful, including a Florida Bar report that went to the Board of Governors the following week.The issue arose after Judge Paul Siegel last year ordered attorneys from five insurance companies with cases pending before him not to sign court documents using language that implied they worked for an independent law firm if they were actually staff counsel for the company. He also ordered that independent medical experts hired by the defense could not say they were paid by the “law firm” but would have to say they were paid by the insurance company.The insurance companies appealed to the Supreme Court, asking it to use its “all writs” power to override Judge Siegel’s actions. The plaintiff argued Siegel acted within his authority. United Services Automobile Ass’n v. Evelyn Goodman, case nos. SC01-1700, SC01-1710, SC01-1797, SC01-1814, SC01-1886, SC01-1887, SC01-1913, SC01-1980.Miami attorney Arthur England, representing the insurance companies, said Judge Siegel’s orders amounted to a rule regulating the way law is practiced, something reserved for the Supreme Court.“The judge has first created an ethical violation. . . and he’s taken that ethical violation and said, ‘I’m not going to have any pleading in my court that doesn’t have disclosure.’ Is that a rule? Of course, it is,” England said.He, as well as briefs filed in the case, argued Siegel’s ruling could also violate state law which holds in some cases, even though an insurance company is paying any awards, the jury is not told there is insurance coverage. Requiring the lawyers to say they are on staff at the insurance company or independent medical experts to say they are paid by an insurance company could circumvent that law, England argued.Letterhead and business cards used by the insurance lawyers, while containing a firm name, also reveal that the “firm” is owned or part of the insurance company, England and the briefs said, and clients are always given full disclosure that they are being represented by insurance company staff attorneys.Miami attorney Robert Sondak, representing plaintiff Goodman, said Judge Siegel did not exceed his authority and there is no reason for the Supreme Court to alter his action.“Judge Siegel was struggling with two conflicting public policies,” he said. “One was keeping information about insurance companies from the jury, which is proper, and the other is preventing fraud in the court. Judge Siegel was wrestling with them and trying to harmonize them.”But while leaving those rulings intact, Sondak said the court could send the matter to the Rules of Judicial Administration and the Rules of Civil Procedure committees for study. He also said the issue raises unlicensed practice of law issues because of the control insurance companies can exert over their staff lawyers.England asked the court to strike Siegel’s orders, hold as a matter of law that staff attorneys and expert witnesses do not have to reveal the existence of insurance coverage and to allow the use of firm names. He said because there was full disclosure to both clients and the court about the names, there was no fraud.Alternatively, he asked the court to strike the lower court orders and await the Bar’s report.
Manchester City and Arsenal meet at the Etihad Stadium at 4.00pm.City have won just four of their last 10 league matches while Arsenal were defeated by Everton on Wednesday, which ended an unbeaten league run that stretched back to the opening day.City manager Pep Guardiola knows it won’t be easy against Arsene Wenger’s attacking side. Elsewhere at 4.00pm, Tottenham will be looking to maintain their good form at White Hart Lane with the visit of Burnley.Spurs are unbeaten at home in the League this season.Meanwhile, Burnley have the worst away record in the league with just one point taken from their seven away days. First up at 1.30pm, Bournemouth will be hoping to record back-to-back wins for the first time since March against south coast rivals Southampton.Southampton have only won five of their 16 league matches this season.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisLooks like Alpena public schools aren’t the only local school district checking in early for next year.Hillman Community Schools Board of Education recently revealed that they too are planning to start school before Labor Day for the 2018–2019 school year.Hillman Community Schools submitted all materials to the Michigan Department of Education and are waiting on approval to start school before the end of the summer holiday.If approved Hillman Community Schools will began their school year on August 27th.AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisContinue ReadingPrevious Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Raises Awareness on Plastic During ‘Zero Waste Week’Next Veteran, Wife Go Further with Food in March
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