State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. will pay the U.S. government $100 million to settle a lawsuit filed by two whistleblowers in 2006. An August 24 article from The Charlotte Observer reports that Cori and Kerri Rigsby, both former claims adjusters for State Farm, alleged in their 2006 lawsuit that the company mishandled flood insurance claims following Hurricane Katrina.
According to the article, other terms of the $100 million settlement are confidential. Both Rigsby sisters lived in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, when they filed the lawsuit. “State Farm also agreed to dismiss counterclaims it filed against the sisters, alleging that they breached their employment agreements and violated other laws by taking company documents while working as independent adjusters,” the article reports.
“The cases have been dismissed with prejudice, meaning they can’t be filed again, by U.S. District Court Judge Sul Ozerden in Gulfport,” according to the article. Additionally, “[t]he Rigsbys had already proven that State Farm defrauded the National Flood Insurance Program by charging it for flood damage to a policyholder’s Biloxi home when wind caused the destruction. State Farm’s policy was supposed to cover the wind damage.” From this case, “Ozerden ordered State Farm to pay $750,000, triple the amount of the false claim State Farm submitted to the flood program, and $2.9 million in attorney’s fees and expenses for the Rigsbys.”
The article states that this previous case’s 2013 conclusion “opened the door for the Rigsbys to examine thousands of other State Farm policyholder claims for fraud after Hurricane Katrina.”
In a joint statement about the recent $100 million settlement, State Farm and the Rigsbys said, “The parties are pleased to bring an end to this 16-year litigation.” The Rigsbys are entitled to 25-30% of the recovery from the settlement, but the article does not mention whether or not the whistleblowers will receive an award for their involvement in the case.
According to the article, the money in the settlement “goes to the federal government, not policyholders, because the potential fraud was against the National Flood Insurance Program.”