State Farm-Hood settlement under scrutiny

On Feb. 18, 2008, Hood wrote an op-ed column in the Clarion-Ledger and stated, “allegations lodged against me by this insurer (State Farm) were shown to be false when a federal judge recently threw out a lawsuit it had filed against my office.”

Jan Schaffer, press secretary for Hood, stated in an e-mail to the press Feb. 19, 2008, “There is no ‘settlement.’ The only reason it is referred to as such is because the details of the attorney general’s criminal investigation needed to be protected. The case was dismissed because the allegations were false.”

In an e-mail response that Jackson News Media said was accidentally leaked to the press, State Farm attorney Sheila Birnbaum stated, “This is so over the top. Can we ask that he (General Hood) be held in contempt of court for misrepresenting a settlement agreement and order of the court?”

In Bramlette’s judgment of dismissal Feb. 7, 2008, he cited the settlement agreement and affirmed the underlying agreement that State Farm sought to have enforced in the lawsuit. He stated the Jan. 23, 2007, letter agreement “is a standalone agreement, unambiguous and enforceable.” He also stated, “The Court further finds that, based on a confidential settlement agreement between the parties, which shall remain under seal, this case shall be dismissed with prejudice. The Court retains jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement.”

MS Business Journal
4/23/9