Surprising events can turn old news into new – and that’s certainly the case with the latest news about the fee dispute between Jones, Funderburg, Sessums, Peterson and Lee and the other member firms of the defunct SKG joint venture group.
Surprising event # 1 came from the Mississippi Supreme Court. The MSC granted the Interlocutory Appeal filed by Dick Scruggs as well as the Motion for Reconsideration of the Interlocutory Appeal filed by the other former member firms of SKG – surprising enough to generate Rossmiller’s mildest post yet about a Scruggs related event that alone was a surprising and welcome event.
The Mississippi Supreme Court has granted Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and former Scruggs Katrina Group attorneys a hearing to decide whether a lawsuit involving Hurricane Katrina litigation should go to arbitration.
In April, Circuit Court Judge William Coleman ruled the law firm of Jones, Funderburg, Sessums, Peterson and Lee is entitled to fees and possibly punitive damages arising from their case against the Scruggs Katrina Group for $26.5 million in legal fees from Hurricane Katrina-related litigation. Coleman ruled in favor of the Jones firm because the lawsuit over legal fees led to the attempt by members of the Scruggs Law Firm to bribe Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey — the original judge presiding over the lawsuit.
MSC’s website provided little information and no clues about what will be considered – clues come instead from a folo reader commenting on the Eagle story.
I really doubt they will disagree with the Court’s rulings on sanctions against Scruggs, but I could be wrong. The part that has always interested me is whether the S.Ct. will set a precedent that joint venturers who didn’t bribe anyone can be sanctioned for bribery.
I’ve included the announcements from the MSC website at the end of the post in the interest of moving on to the more recent Surprising Event #2 – Scruggs reached a settlement with Jones. Alyssa Schnugg has that story – linked here in pdf as the Eagle flies before the ink can dry and links disappear overnight.
The lawsuit against former trial attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs — that led to his being incarcerated — has been settled, Oxford attorney Grady Tollison said this morning.
“We settled Thursday morning,” Tollison said.
On behalf of Jackson law firm, Jones, Funderburg, Sessums, Peterson & Lee, Tollison filed a lawsuit in March 2007 against Scruggs and other former members of the now defunct Scruggs Katrina Group. Jackson attorney Johnny Jones claimed his firm was pushed out of the Scruggs Katrina Group and only offered a fraction of what was owned to them for the firm’s work on several Hurricane Katrina-related cases…
Also listed in the suit are the Barrett Law Office, Nutt & McAlister and Lovelace law firms — which were all part of the SKG when it was formed.
Tollison said his client has also settled with the Nutt & McAlister Law Firm. He said he expects to go to trial against the Barrett and Lovelace firms.
“We’re attempted to settled with them,” Tollison said. “But my feeling is, we’re headed for trial.”
Not for a while, I would think as the MSC orders included a Stay. Frankly, I wonder what settlement would be appropriate with the Lovelace firm. If you recall, there is correspondence from Lovelace that offers support to Jones in the dispute.
Surprising event #3 may not be worth a mention but it caught my eye as I was reading about the MDI mediation program after Judge Senter’s ruling in Boyd v State Farm.
As it turns out, it was not worth mentioning – a case of mistaken identity on my part – and references to the non-event have been deleted and my apology added.
Nonetheless, there are relationships in the litigation that are too close for comfort – and not all of them have been subjected to the same examination as others. I suspect that day will come when there’s a surprise #3 worth reporting and we’ll have it when it does.
Here are the MSC notices with emphasis added:
Lafayette ; Disposition: Petition for Interlocutory Appeal filed by petitioners is granted. All proceedings in cause no. LO7-135,Lafayette County Circuit Court, are stayed pending this Court’s decision in this appeal. Easley, J., not participating. Order entered.; LC Case #: L07-135; Ruling Date: 02/26/2008; Ruling Judge: William Coleman
Lafayette Circuit Court; LC Case #: L07-135; Ruling Date: 04/16/2008; Ruling Judge: William Coleman; Disposition: Motion for Reconsideration of Order Denying Petition for Interlocutory Appeal and for Stay of Proceedings filed by Petitioners is granted. The Petition for Interlocutory Appeal and for Stay of Proceedings filed by Petitioners is granted. All proceedings in cause no. L07-135, Lafayette County Circuit Court, are stayed pending this Court’s decision in this appeal. Easley, J., not participating. Order entered.