Like a Good Neighbor

It's been quite a hurricane season for the U.S. this year, with Harvey hitting Houston, Irma passing through Florida all the way up to Bracker & Marcus HQ, and Jose and Maria on their way. We hope everyone is staying safe during this difficult time.

There's no question that natural disasters bring out the best in Americans, as we all band together to support those in the path of destruction. But there are always a few bad apples who see opportunity in suffering. There are price gougers, con artists, and, of course, fraud against the government.

Over a decade later, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is still vivid in our memories. Yours truly was a graduate of Tulane University less than two years prior. While the rest of the nation was passing around collection plates to restore New Orleans, State Farm Insurance saw a chance to defraud those same taxpayers. In United States ex rel. Rigsby v. State Farm, the "Good Neighbor" company was found by a jury to have misclassified wind damage, which it should have paid for, as flood damage, which was paid by the federal government under the National Flood Insurance Program. The case went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the verdict.

That verdict spun additional litigation against State Farm, including a lawsuit filed by the state of Mississippi alleging that it had paid as much as $522 million to State Farm policyholders after it manipulated reports of adjusters and engineers to limit its own responsibility.

The story of the Rigsby sisters was covered by 20/20.

The Origin of "Whistleblowers"

We'd like to share this interesting podcast by On The Media discussing the origin of whistleblowers. The term dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. Ben Zimmer, executive editor of and language columnist for the Wall Street Journal says "original whistleblowers, naturally enough, were people who actually blew whistles! So that would be like...a referee, in football or boxing, who might blow the whistle in order to stop the proceedings. And then it just got extended in American slang--"blowing the whistle" just meant put a stop to things."

For the full podcast, click here.

UPDATE: EpiPen Rip Offs Continue

An update to our previous blog post: Mylan will pay $465 million in fines to settle claims brought by the U.S. Justice Department. In a rare instance of a corporation being the whistleblower, the drug company Sanofi first brought the matter to the U.S. Attorney's office in 2014 because it was selling a competing drug. Sanofi will receive $38.7 million as its share of the recovery.