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Fogel v. Farmers Group

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Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Lee Baca and Thomas Girardi — Published 09/01/2011 | Beverly Hills Courier

Sources: Inquiry Launched into Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Highberger’s Impartiality in Matter of Fogel v Farmers Group

An inquiry has been launched into the impartiality of the judge presiding over the matter of Fogel v. Farmers, The Leslie Brodie Report has learned.

This inquiry was launched following a review of Consumer Dogwatch legal team’s motion to disqualify Judge William Highberger (See http://goo.gl/FGSNB ) , as well as unsubstantiated allegations concerning Judge Highberger, Carolyn Kuhl-Highberger, and Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese.

According to sources familiar with the situation, the inquiry will examine the possibility of tacit involvement by Judge Highberger in the circumstances surrounding concurrent representation by the law offices of Girardi & Keese and Skadden Arps.

Specifically, despite their respective roles as counsel for plaintiffs and defendants in Fogel v. Farmers, Girardi & Keese and Skadden Arps entered into a separate agreement by which Skadden Arps and partner Thomas Nolan represented Girardi & Keese and Thomas Girardi before the Ninth Circuit in the matter of In re Girardi following the Ninth Circuit’s issuance of an order to show cause why Girardi & Keese, Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack, Thomas Girardi, and Walter Lack should not be suspended, disbarred, or otherwise sanctioned as a result of the massive fraud which took place in litigation pursued by them against Dole Food Company.

While both cases were pending, and over a period of 4-5 years, neither the Ninth Circuit nor the Los Angeles County Superior Court (nor, for that matter, the class of plaintiffs which Girardi allegedly represents) were ever informed of the concurrent representation.  See http://tinyurl.com/fogelvfarmersobjection

Update 1 – Fogel v Farmers Group, Inc. — Class-Action Settlement

The Leslie Brodie Report (TLR) is carefully following  developments relating to the case of Benjamin Fogel vs. Farmers Group, Inc. currently pending before the Los Angeles Superior Court.  We will provide coverage and post updates as they become available.

— Opposition to Objection by State of Montana Submitted to the Court on August 24, 2011.

— Said opposition presently not part of court documents posted on official settlement website.

— Plans underway for formal motion to intervene and vacate any judgment which doesn’t address, in a meaningful way, issues relating to the concurrent representation.

— List of objectors grows, and now also include: BRILLIANT MARVIN, CASEY MICHAEL, CHOI HYUNG, COLEMAN BOBBIE JOE SR., COPE STEVEN,CORSER JOSEPH, CORSER NANCY, EHMKE JOSHUA,
ELLIOTT JANICE,HEARD MATTIE, JOHNSON MARK, KEMPER ANNE, LEVERETS LUCY, LYONS GEORGE,RUDOLPH LORENA, REYES ESTELLA,RICHARDS ALEX,RUDOLPH JAMES,SCHUH CHARMAIN,VALLEE JAMES ,VARELA MELODY,

LAKE DAVID N. LAW OFFICES OF APC – Attorney for Objector
LAW OFFICES OF EVAN A. NIELSEN – Attorney for Plaintiff/Petitioner
LAW OFFICES OF R. KEITH PERKINS – Attorney for Plaintiff/Petitioner
LOCKE LORD BISSELL & LIDDELL LLP – Attorney for Defendant/Respondent
LONGLEY & MAXWELL LLP – Attorney for Plaintiff/Petitioner
MILLER STEVE A. – Attorney for Objector
OFFERMAN & KING LLP – Objector
PALMER DARRELL LAW OFFICES OF – Attorney for Objector
SHERWOOD ALAN J. – Attorney for Objector
WINN KATHERINE LAW OFFICES OF – Attorney for Objector

08/24/2011 Opposition Document (to mtn-intervene filed by State of Montana and certain Montana class members )
Filed by Attorney for Defendant/Respondent

08/24/2011 Opposition Document (and joinder to Defts’ oppo to mtn to intervene by State of Montana and individual consumers )
Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff/Petitioner

Future Hearings
09/02/2011 at 11:00 am in department 307 at 600 South Commonwealth Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90005
Status Conference (FINAL APPROVAL READINESSCONFERENCE)

09/07/2011 at 09:00 am in department 307 at 600 South Commonwealth Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90005
APPROVAL – SETTLEMENT (1) HEARING RE FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT2) MOTION FOR ATTORNEY FEES3) MTN-INTERVENE4) PRO HAC VICE)

PointOfLaw Forum: Fogel v. Farmers Group: CCAF challenges $90m fee in claims-made settlement

FORUM

« Around the web, August 22 |

August 23, 2011

Fogel v. Farmers Group: CCAF challenges $90m fee in claims-made settlement

The Fogel v. Farmers Group settlement seems impressive from the notice: $455 million! When you get to the fine print, it turns out that class members have to jump through hoops to claim amounts as small as under a dollar, and that anything not claimed will revert to Farmers affiliates. Even if the settlement was worth $455 million, the $90 million fee request is excessive. The Center for Class Action Fairness LLC has objected on behalf of two class members. More: LA Times; Consumer Watchdog.

Interestingly, class counsel is Thomas Girardi, who POL reported on here; the defense attorneys are Skadden, which represented Girardi in In re Girardi.

Posted by Ted Frank at 9:38 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

Ethics Complaint filed with California State Bar against Skadden Arps’ Thomas Nolan/Raoul Kennedy and Girardi Keese’s Thomas Girardi/Graham LippSmith for Alleged Misconduct in Fogel v. Farmers Group Inc.

<img style=”margin: 0px;” title=”null” src=”http://mooker.com/backend/uploads/1/police-siren-animated.gif&#8221; alt=”null” width=”500″ height=”70″ />

TLR has learned an ethics complaint alleging multiple acts of misconduct has been filed with the State Bar of California against attorneys from the firms of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Girardi & Keese.

Knowledgeable sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, maintain the complaint alleges that ethical breaches took place as a result of Skadden Arps’ representation of Girardi & Keese in the matter of In Re Girardi because, at the same time, Girardi & Keese and Skadden Arps were on opposing sides in the case of Fogel v. Farmers Group, Inc.

According to the sources, the parties named in the complaint are Raoul Kennedy, Thomas Nolan, and Richard Zurmoski of Skadden Arps as well as Graham LippSmith and Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese.

<img style=”margin: 0px;” src=”http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ_h8ZvcHSm4_GhiYpKwD3XbnjNcVMhNJ0PWYekBXcRombYWwZN8xL-Hg&#8221; alt=”” width=”100″ height=”150″ />Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese
From left, Messrs. Raoul Kennedy, Thomas Nolan, Thomas Girardi and Graham LippSmith.

The complaint alleges that in August 2003, Walter Lack (of Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack) and Thomas Girardi and Graham LippSmith (of Girardi & Keese) filed a class action suit on behalf of plaintiffs Benjamin Fogel against Farmers Group, Inc. in Los Angeles County Superior Court.  The suit — which is still pending and is anticipated to settle in September 2011 — was defended by attorneys from Skadden Arps (Raoul Kennedy and Richard Zurmoski).

Despite their respective roles as plaintiffs’ counsel and defendants’ counsel in Fogel v. Farmers, Girardi & Keese and Skadden Arps entered into an agreement by which Skadden Arps and partner Thomas Nolan would represent Girardi & Keese and Thomas Girardi before the Ninth Circuit in the matter of In re Girardi following the Ninth Circuit’s issuance of an order to show cause why Girardi & Keese, Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack, Thomas Girardi, and Walter Lack should not be suspended, disbarred, or otherwise sanctioned as a result of the massive fraud which took place in litigation pursued by them against Dole Food Company.

On July 13, 2010, the Ninth Circuit issued an order suspending Walter Lack for a period of six months and reprimanding Girardi; the order also imposed almost $500,000 in monetary sanctions against the two attorneys.

<img src=”http://data6.blog.de/media/892/5317892_704b3a97c0_m.jpeg” height=”352″ width=”500″ alt=”In Re Girardi ” />

<img src=”http://data6.blog.de/media/857/5479857_75bd167d2c_m.jpeg” height=”64″ width=”500″ alt=”Skadden Arps Thomas Nolan” />

On July 14 2010, in an attempt to conceal their attorney-client relationship, Skadden Arps and Thomas Nolan filed a motion with the Ninth Circuit asking for their names to be redacted from the published opinion.

According to sources, including TLR’s legal correspondent — known as State Bar Insider (“SBI”) — the arrangement described above is disfavored and unethical; moreover, for such a reltionship to be authorized, Thomas Girardi was required to notify each member of the class he represents about his status as a client of Skadden Arps, and seek a waiver and obtain approval from his clients.

According to SBI, “on its face and based of my reading of “Freivogel on Conflicts,” it appears that Tom Girardi violated his duty of loyalty and zealousness as well as the duty of candor to his clients — the class that he allegedly represents.”

Moreover, according to sources, Skadden Arps has also violated multiple ethical rules and statutes by agreeing to undertake the representation of Girardi & Keese and Thomas Girardi.

A separate source stated: “Assume for the sake of argument that Skadden Arps feels a motion for sanction is warranted against Mr. Girardi in Fogel v. Farmers.  Taking such action would require Skadden to be directly adverse to its client (Thomas Girardi) in the matter of In Re Girardi.”

Moreover, according to SBI, he never heard of a practice by which counsel is asking a court to redact her or his name from a published opinion. “They obviously were attempting to conceal the relationship, and now I am fairly certain as to why it was done,” SBI concluded.

Knowledgeable sources maintain that the ethics complaint seeks the removal of Thomas Girardi’s name from the roll of members of the State Bar of California, and asks that multiple years of actual suspension be imposed on Graham LippSmith, Raoul Kennedy, Thomas Nolan, and Richard Zurmoski.

Ethics Complaint filed with California State Bar against Skadden Arps’ Thomas Nolan/Raoul Kennedy and Girardi Keese’s Thomas Girardi/Graham LippSmith for Alleged Misconduct in Fogel v. Farmers Group Inc.

TLR has learned an ethics complaint alleging multiple acts of misconduct has been filed with the State Bar of California against attorneys from the firms of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher &amp; Flom LLP and Girardi &amp; Keese.

Knowledgeable sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, maintain the complaint alleges that ethical breaches took place as a result of Skadden Arps’ representation of Girardi &amp; Keese in the matter of In Re Girardi because, at the same time, Girardi &amp; Keese and Skadden Arps were on opposing sides in the case of Fogel v. Farmers Group, Inc.

According to the sources, the parties named in the complaint are Raoul Kennedy, Thomas Nolan, and Richard Zurmoski of Skadden Arps as well as Graham LippSmith and Thomas Girardi of Girardi &amp; Keese.

The complaint alleges that in August 2003, Walter Lack (of Engstrom, Lipscomb &amp; Lack) and Thomas Girardi and Graham LippSmith (of Girardi &amp; Keese) filed a class action suit on behalf of plaintiffs Benjamin Fogel against Farmers Group, Inc. in Los Angeles County Superior Court.  The suit — which is still pending and is anticipated to settle in September 2011 — was defended by attorneys from Skadden Arps (Raoul Kennedy and Richard Zurmoski).  
 
Despite their respective roles as plaintiffs’ counsel and defendants’ counsel in Fogel v. Farmers, Girardi &amp; Keese and Skadden Arps entered into an agreement by which Skadden Arps and partner Thomas Nolan would represent Girardi &amp; Keese and Thomas Girardi before the Ninth Circuit in the matter of In re Girardi following the Ninth Circuit’s issuance of an order to show cause why Girardi &amp; Keese, Engstrom Lipscomb &amp; Lack, Thomas Girardi, and Walter Lack should not be suspended, disbarred, or otherwise sanctioned as a result of the massive fraud which took place in litigation pursued by them against Dole Food Company. 

On July 13, 2010, the Ninth Circuit issued an order suspending Walter Lack for a period of six months and reprimanding Girardi; the order also imposed almost $500,000 in monetary sanctions against the two attorneys.

In Re Girardi

Skadden Arps Thomas Nolan

On July 14 2010, in an attempt to conceal their attorney-client relationship, Skadden Arps and Thomas Nolan filed a motion with the Ninth Circuit asking for their names to be redacted from the published opinion.

According to sources, including TLR’s legal correspondent — known as State Bar Insider (“SBI”) — the arrangement described above is disfavored and unethical; moreover, for such a reltionship to be authorized, Thomas Girardi was required to notify each member of the class he represents about his status as a client of Skadden Arps, and seek a waiver and obtain approval from his clients.

According to SBI, “on its face and based of my reading of “Freivogel on Conflicts,” it appears that Tom Girardi violated his duty of loyalty and zealousness as well as the duty of candor to his clients — the class that he allegedly represents.” 

Moreover, according to sources, Skadden Arps has also violated multiple ethical rules and statutes by agreeing to undertake the representation of Girardi &amp; Keese and Thomas Girardi.

A separate source stated: “Assume for the sake of argument that Skadden Arps feels a motion for sanction is warranted against Mr. Girardi in Fogel v. Farmers.  Taking such action would require Skadden to be directly adverse to its client (Thomas Girardi) in the matter of In Re Girardi.”

Moreover, according to SBI, he never heard of a practice by which counsel is asking a court to redact her or his name from a published opinion. “They obviously were attempting to conceal the relationship, and now I am fairly certain as to why it was done,” SBI concluded.

Knowledgeable sources maintain that the ethics complaint seeks the removal of Thomas Girardi’s name from the roll of members of the State Bar of California, and asks that multiple years of actual suspension be imposed on Graham LippSmith, Raoul Kennedy, Thomas Nolan, and Richard Zurmoski.

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