State Farm’s my-way-or-the-highway approach to the depositions of the Scruggses hit the road today in Southern District Federal Court with Judge Walker’s Order denying their motion to compel the Scruggs to testify.
Walker’s denial renders moot the Motion to Strike filed by the Scruggs reported here and the Motion for Protection filed by McIntosh Counsel Tina Nicholson. (text only order)
Walker also issued an Order denying State Farm’s Motion for Summary Judgment.
As you will see in the text of the orders, these motions were ill advised from the get go – defense mechanisms in otherwise indefensible motions IMO. First, take a look the Order denying the Motion to Compel.
Before the Court are  and , State Farm’s motions to compel Richard Scruggs and Zach Scruggs, respectively, to answer all questions which they refused to answer during their July 2008 depositions…The Court reviewed the depositions, and finds that although counsel representing the Scruggses objected to questions on grounds of various privileges (attorney-client, work product, etc.), Richard and Zach Scruggs declined to answer questions based upon their Fifth Amendment privileges.
The Court can understand State Farm’s pique at the Scruggses “across the board”invocation of the privilege, even as to such inconsequential inquiries as deponents’ addresses, ages, whether they had ever been admitted to practice law, whether they had previously given depositions, or been convicted of felonies, etc.
However, the Court finds the relief requested by State Farm – an order requiring the Scruggses to answer every question put to them in the depositions – is equally untenable.
This Court cannot hold, as a matter of law, that Richard and Zach Scruggs have no Fifth Amendment privilege against answering Defendants’ substantive questions. It is therefore, ORDERED that the motions to compel are denied, this the 27th day of August, 2008. (emphasis mine)
Moving next to his Order denying State Farm’s Motion for Summary Judgment, Walker writes:
…Asserting there have been “a number of significant legal and factual developments” which warrant granting such leave; that “ample time is available for briefing and ruling on the motion; and that granting leave would comport with the Rule 56 objective of isolating and disposing of factually unsupported claims, State Farm asks the Court to grant it seven days after completion of the Rigsbys and Scruggs depositions to file a motion for summary judgment…
Plaintiffs filed no response to the motion presently before the Court. However, the deadline for dispositive motions, November 9, 2007, expired over nine months ago. The pretrial conference in this case is scheduled for September 8, 2008, and the case is set for trial on the October 6, 2008 calendar. The Court declines to grant leave to file a summary judgment motion less than a month before the scheduled trial. It is therefore,ORDERED, that the motion for leave to file motion for summary judgment is denied, this the 27th day of August, 2008.
A victory for justice; an assurance the Fifth Amendment rights of every citizen remain intact and that McIntosh is going to trial – but just the first post of the evening as there more filing today in both McIntosh and the qui tam case.