The sequel to the Siege of State Farm is out – State Farm turns the tables on Hurricane Katrina Lawyers. Since Roger Parloff acknowleges his strategy one can assume the same applies when State Farm “turns the tables”.
Last week I published a feature story online, “The Siege of State Farm” attempting to encapsulate the extraordinary, multifaceted assault upon State Farm and the insurance industry that was mounted by plaintiffs lawyer Richard F. “Dickie” Scruggs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The “extraordinary, multifaceted, assault” of State Farm on the Hurricane Katrina lawyers, according to Parloff’s article, was launched in Judge Senter’s courtroom.
the April 4 order of U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter, Jr., disqualifying all of Scruggs’ former Scruggs Katrina Group (SKG) co-counsel from any continuing involvement in Mississippi policyholder litigation against State Farm; disqualifying Scruggs’ former State Farm “insiders” – claims adjusters Cori and Kerri Rigsby – from testifying in any of those cases (there are about 180 of them); and forbidding any law firm from introducing into evidence in those cases any document obtained by the Rigsby sisters by means of their insider status, rather than by means of ordinary discovery processes>
Poor ol’ Roger, no one told him there was a Stay on the discovery process in the Rigsby sister’s Qui Tam, so he goes on writing more about the snowball State Farm is rolling.
Since then, the disqualification snowball has continued to roll, and it is likely to reach still more lawyers and cases in the coming days. Last Friday another federal judge in the Southern District of Mississippi disqualified the SKG/KLG lawyers in another case against State Farm, as reported by David Rossmiller here.
This week, a ruling is expected on State Farm’s motion to disqualify the SKG/KLG lawyers in a civil RICO case against State Farm that SKG filed last June, where U.S. District Judge William H. Barbour, Jr., also of the Southern District of Mississippi, is presiding. It’s hard to imagine an inconsistent outcome there.
In addition, State Farm also moved last week to disqualify Scruggs’ co-counsel in the federal False Claims Act case (or whistleblower lawsuit) he had brought against the insurer on behalf of the Rigsbys alleging fraud on the National Flood Insurance Program. The attorneys whose disqualification is being sought there (who were not SKG/KLG lawyers) include former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Todd Graves and his firm, Graves Bartle & Marcus of Kansas City, Mo., and former Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward (Chip) Robertson, Jr. of Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson & Gorny of Jefferson City, Mo.
Oops, did Roger’s snowball start to melt when he established State Farm is asking Judge Senter to disqualify attorneys who were not SLK/KLG lawyers? Maybe he didn’t know there is still a partial seal on two of the depositions – one from each of the two sisters. When the sun shines, snowballs melt.