In the Objection of Non-Parties Richard F. Scruggs and D. Zachary Scruggs (“the Scruggses”) filed today in response to Magistrate Judge Walker’s Order of May 15, along with a Motion to Stay, the Scrugges ask the Court to expedite consideration – and do they ever provide a lot to think about an order they call “clearly erroneous and contrary to law”.
…the documents that the Magistrate Judge ordered the Scruggses to produce all relate either to Cori and Kerri Rigsby or the conduct of Richard Scruggs and the Scruggs Law Firm.
These documents are of no relevance now that the Scruggs Law Firm has withdrawn from this case, the Court has disqualified all the former members of the Scruggs Katrina Group, the Court has excluded the Rigsbys as witnesses, and the Court has excluded the documents they uncovered while working for Defendant E.A. Renfroe & Co. (“Renfroe”)…
…the Magistrate Judge apparently based the Order on a letter brief submitted by Defendant State Farm Fire & Casualty Insurance Co. (“State Farm”) that was never served upon the Scruggses and to which the Scruggses never had an opportunity to respond. For these reasons, the Court should sustain the Scruggses’ objections and reverse the Order.
The 17-page Objection is an interesting read that provides context for the five exhibits – and, to Judge Walker’s credit, he responded immediately:
TEXT ONLY ORDER granting 1200 Motion to Stay production of documents required by order 1194 pending disposition of the motion for review of the order filed by Richard and Zach Scruggs. The documents need not be produced until the Court rules on the motion for review. NO FURTHER WRITTEN ORDER WILL ISSUE. Signed by Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker on May 28, 2008. (Joffe, Scherry) [Entered: 05/28/2008]
As stated in their Motion to Stay, the Scruggs’ lawyers conclude:
Scruggs’ counsel was not copied on the Court’s request of May 1, 2008 regarding outstanding discovery matters Scruggses’ new counsel, who entered appearances in late March, were inadvertently omitted from a distribution list in the office of State Farm’s counsel (See e-mail exchange between Mullen, Watkins, attached as Exhibit “B”), and the Scruggses did not receive a copy of the letter until May 27, 2008.
Because they were not aware of the communications between counsel for State Farm and the Court, the Scruggses were not aware that the Court would consider any further briefing or argument as to the relevance of the document requests.
Because they did not have an opportunity to present the Court with updated arguments as to the relevance of State Farm’s remaining requests and because the Court did not consider certain of the Scruggses’ arguments, the Scruggses are today filing an Objection to the Order.
Without a stay, the Scruggses may be required to comply with the Order before the Court hears and resolves their Objection. The Scruggses will be prejudiced and unduly burdened by having to complete an exhaustive document search while the Court considers their Objection.
The Scruggses will be severely prejudiced if they are forced to produce any responsive documents while their Objection is being considered because their constitutional privileges may be waived upon such production.
State Farm will suffer no prejudice if the Scruggses are granted an additional fifteen days from the date of the Court’s ruling on their Objection to produce documents, if such production is still required by the Court.
THEN we have Non-parties Scruggs objecting to the Order of Magistrate Judge Walker which may be summed up as:
“The Court has specifically excluded any responsive documents from evidence, and the portion of the Order compelling production of such documents is clearly erroneous.”