Judge Senter Won’t Remove Self from State Farm Class Action Case

March 1, 2007

A federal judge in Gulfport, Miss. has refused to disqualify himself from hearing a bid to certify a class-action lawsuit against State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. over the insurer’s handling of claims after Hurricane Katrina.

Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm had questioned whether U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. can be impartial in the case because a federal magistrate judge and a federal court clerk in Mississippi could be plaintiffs in a class action against the company.

Senter already had recused himself from hearing the individual lawsuits that U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge John Roper and Terri Brown, a clerk for U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr., filed against State Farm.

Senter said he will exclude Roper and Brown from participating in the proposed class action, but he declined to recuse himself from presiding over the case.

Senter was scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday from attorneys on whether to allow a class action against State Farm by policyholders whose homes were destroyed.

Senter also planned to hold a separate hearing Wednesday on the terms of a proposed settlement that calls for State Farm to pay at least $50 million to roughly 36,000 policyholders whose claims can be reopened, reviewed and possibly paid. State Farm wasn’t seeking to disqualify Senter from hearing that case.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.