In Tough Hands At Allstate

In Tough Hands At Allstate

It’s fighting accusations that its methods deny policyholders legitimate benefitsDavid Berardinelli is something of a bon vivant. The Santa Fe (N.M.) plaintiffs’ lawyer collects fine wine, has chefs from local restaurants over to cook in his home, and restores classic Porsches. He’s also about to become a published author.His book, From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves, won’t burn up the best-seller lists. But it’s already making waves. It tells the story of the key role played by management consultant McKinsey & Co. in reengineering auto insurance claims operations at Allstate Corp. (ALL ) — and it’s a story Allstate doesn’t want told.

In February, a New Mexico state court rejected Allstate’s efforts to keep Berardinelli from publishing his book, which will be marketed to trial lawyers nationwide later this year. Since 2004, Allstate has been defying an order by the same court to make available public copies of some 12,500 PowerPoint slides McKinsey prepared for the insurer, which form the basis of the book. That’s quite unusual — big companies almost never ignore judicial orders. In a court filing, Allstate has characterized its actions as “respectful civil disobedience.”