Judge anticipates punishment of lawyers in Fort Smith class action case | Arkansas Blog

Friday, April 15, 2016

Judge anticipates punishment of lawyers in Fort Smith class action case

Posted By on Fri, Apr 15, 2016 at 7:49 AM

click to enlarge JUDGE P.K. HOLMES: Ready to lower boom on lawyers in class action case.
  • JUDGE P.K. HOLMES: Ready to lower boom on lawyers in class action case.
Federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith issued a 32-page ruling yesterday indicating he contemplates punishment of 16 lawyers who moved a class action lawsuit against an insurance company out of his court to a state court in Polk County after a settlement had been worked out.

Some have criticized the settlement as inadequate to those damaged by alleged underpayments of auto insurance claims and too profitable for the lawyers involved. The lawyers are getting $1.8 million and $3.4 million has been set aside for claims.

Lisa Hammersly wrote about the order in this morning's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Holmes has set a hearing June 10 to assess the relative improper action  he's found by 16 lawyers in the case. His punishment could range from mild — a caution — to a requirement that lawyers have to notify clients they'd been found to have acted in bad faith in the case. This, to put it mildly, would be bad for their business.

The 16 lawyers include John Goodson, the wealthy Texarkana lawyer and University of Arkansas trustee whose own wealth and contributions from other class acton lawyers have powered his wife, Courtney Goodson, in races for Arkansas Supreme Court. She lost a race this year to be chief justice, but remains on the court.

The hearing will be interesting. Will all the lawyers stand together and accept full and equal responsibility for tactics in the case? Or might some fingers be pointed at ringleaders of the wheeling and dealing?

PS: Interesting to note an objection filed to the judge's effort to get data on claims paid in the case. Information relevant to that has been put under seal in state court, an attorney for the class action lawyers said, and it wouldn't be right to reveal it in federal court. There's a blur of opposition to drawing conclusions from the data. This much is known: Out of almost 15,000 people with potential claims that the insurance company improperly depreciated, only 651 claims, or about 4 percent of those eligible, have been submitted so far. This tally was written in a letter in late February. It was marked confidential, but it was filed in open court yesterday shortly before the judge's order was filed.

Mark Friedman at Arkansas Business, who's been on top of this case from the outset, has more on what appears to be an unusually low claim rate — something critics had predicted.

Also: Here's Friedman's story on the broader order.

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Saturday's open line

    Got any thoughts? Put them here.
    • May 21, 2016
  • Tom Cotton's influence on Trump's new security chief

    U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton is getting credit for pushing President Donald Trump to select Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser, Politico reports.
    • Feb 21, 2017
  • Kenneth Starr: A comment from Betsey Wright

    Betsey Wright, former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff when he was Arkansas governor, responds bitterly to a New York Times article today quoting Whitewater Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's warm words about Clinton. She can't forget the lives Starr ruined in Arkansas.
    • May 24, 2016

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • Discussion: State killing of the mentally ill

    The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and others will have a forum on mental illness and the death penalty at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bowen School of Law's Friday Courtroom.

Most Viewed

  • Dear Little Rock,

    This is not a love letter, Little Rock, though we do love you. This is an intervention.
  • The Monday Democrat-Gazette was slimmer this morning

    Did your Monday morning Arkansas Democrat-Gazette include a business section?
  • Hog football: The lawyers take over

    If you believe social media, it's all over but the post-season buyout for Razorback football coach Bret Bielema. That means, in turn, that the issue of what the coach's contract buyout is worth is not just an academic question.
  • Dental association rips Hutchinson appointee to dental board

    The Arkansas Dental Association has criticized Gov. Asa Hutchinson for not taking its recommendation for a dental regulatory board appointment and appointing instead someone with a record of dental practice violations in the early 1990s.
  • Sabin raises $100,000 for mayor's race

    Michael Cook, a political consultant, has issued a news release saying state Rep. Warwick Sabin has raised $100,000 for his race for Little Rock mayor against incumbent Mayor Mark Stodola.

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation