Email May Hurt State Farm, Miss. Truce

In Monday's piece, Hood wrote that State Farm's allegations "were shown to be false" when Bramlette agreed to dismiss its lawsuit. His spokeswoman, Jan Schaefer, echoed that claim in a press release Tuesday in which she denied Hood reached a "settlement" with State Farm.

"The only reason it is referred to as such is because the details of the attorney general's criminal investigation needed to be protected," Schaefer wrote. "The case was dismissed because the allegations were false."

In response to Schaefer's e-mail, Sheila L. Birnbaum wrote, "This is so over the top. Can we ask that he be held in contempt of court for misrepresenting a settlement agreement and order of the court."

"No you can't," Hood's spokeswoman fired back.

More than a dozen reporters, including several from The Associated Press, were listed as recipients to all three e-mails.

In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Birnbaum said thought she was responding internally to Schaefer's e-mail and didn't realize she was sending it to reporters.

"I'm embarrassed that I pressed the wrong button," she said. "That e-mail shouldn't have gone out."

Birnbaum is a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a New York-based law firm that boasts of representing nearly half of the Fortune 500 companies. She was one of several lawyers who represented State Farm at a hearing where Hood testified for several hours before settling the case.

Birnbaum said her query about seeking a contempt order against Hood was merely "a thought I suggested to be considered."


AP
2/19/8

Posted February 19, 2008 - 8:44 pm

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