Plea Tree of Scruggs II has roots dating back to 1984 tangled in 1998 Coahoma County Chancery Court Decision

One of the many unsolved mysteries of USA v Scruggs is the conflicting picture of Dick Scruggs – to some he is a man of unfailing generosity and to others he is one who consistently “short-changed” his partners.  Perspective aside, no one denies that he fell to the bottom line – two guilty pleas and seven years of confinement – from fee disputes with former partners Jones and Wilson.250px-ipomoea_batatasl_ja01-v2

Yesterday’s post, Dick Scruggs and the Plea Tree, examined the history of plea agreements prior to the one revealed in federal court yesterday.  Playing off the concept of descendants of a first generation illustrated by a family tree, Balducci went to the top of the Plea Tree.

The keen eye of CPA and blogging partner Sop discovered some found the graphic helpful and others did not; and, in that light, it seems important to examine the roots – thinking this time of a sweet potato and not a tree after linking to a most interesting post and set of links (h/t Alan @ Y’all) as well as the decisions of the Supremes that follow.

First, a little background on the sweet potato as a plant.  Above the ground is an ornamental plant and below the roots with a tuberous root (that could be called the tap root, I suppose) the rich meat of a sweet potato.

…a crop plant whose large, starchy, sweet tasting tuberous roots are an important root vegetable…  The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens

In other words, what is readily visible to the naked eye is actually a cover; but, if you dig beneath the surface you will find what’s fueling the growth above ground – and, in this case (USA v Scruggs AKA Scruggs v Merkel DBA Wilson v Scruggs), it appears one can literally put that thought in a pipe and smoke it as the ‘tater is tobacco – a slow growing ‘tater with an off-shoot of its root system extending to the first Wilson v Scruggs Supreme decision with former Supreme and current Chief Judge of the Federal District Court, North Mississippi District, Michael P. Mills, writing:

In 1984, Richard F. Scruggs and William Roberts Wilson, Jr. agreed to associate one another in a  number of asbestos-related personal injury cases. Accordingly, they formed an intermediary corporation in 1985 known as Asbestos Group, P.A. In 1986, Asbestos Group hired Alwyn H. Luckey as a staff attorney.

In 1984, Merkel & Cocke (“Merkel”) was retained to pursue claims on behalf of the heirs of William H. Scott for injuries sustained by Scott as a result of his exposure to asbestos. Thereafter, Charles Merkel approached Wilson and discussed the possibility of associating him to assist with the technical aspects of the case. Wilson agreed to the association. Wilson then asked Luckey to work on the Scott case with him and Merkel. Continue reading “Plea Tree of Scruggs II has roots dating back to 1984 tangled in 1998 Coahoma County Chancery Court Decision”

Paper Moon or Death Star Part Deux: Consumers Fleeing the Farm.

Turn me on take me for a hard ride
Burn me out leave me on the otherside
I yell and tell it that
Its not my friend
I tear it down I tear it down
And then its born again

Have the Red Hot Chili Peppers pegged Florida’s insurance market? Check this out from yesterday’s Sun Sentinel:

Many of Florida’s 1.2 million State Farm policyholders aren’t waiting to find new property insurance after the surprise announcement last month that State Farm is pulling out of Florida.

And the dozens of small insurers that have entered the market in recent years are jumping at the chance to find new customers.

Sol Woloshin, a longtime State Farm customer who lives in Plantation, dropped his State Farm policy the day after the announcement and signed up with Boca Raton-based People’s Trust.

“I feel much better, sure I do, now that this is resolved,” he said. Continue reading “Paper Moon or Death Star Part Deux: Consumers Fleeing the Farm.”

Some stories I’m following this morning

I must make this super quick as I have a very busy day ahead. First is this story from the National Underwriter on problems with the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. I noted a detailed discussion of the Demotech Inc (an insurance rating business) that I hope puts to rest concerns about their methodology and why the market needs agencies willing to rate start up insurers. My hope is Steve and Sup pick up the discussion in comments as the story well illustrates the very real problems with Florida’s insurance market. I don’t blame Gov Crist or Commish McCarty though as the industry has resisted and out right undermined (IMHO) good faith legislative efforts there. Nonetheless the State of Florida is having a hard time bucking recent trends in the credit markets:

The Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, a key reinsurance provider, has a shortfall of $18.5 billion, which could pose problems for some of the state’s recent insurance startups, state officials indicated.

Jack Nicholson, chief operating officer for the state fund, said yesterday, prior to a briefing session with the State Senate Ways and Means Committee, that the fund under legislation approved last year is required to provide $29 billion in reinsurance, but may not be able to meet that obligation under today’s bond market conditions.

In November of last year, Dublin, Ohio-based rating firm of Demotech Inc. put insurers on notice that “the potential inability” of the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund to honor claims adversely affects the ratings of carriers dependent on the reinsurance it provides.

Next up is from the front page of the Sun Herald. Steve will tell you that I took a good bit of heat for voicing the opinion that land buyouts were a great idea back in the fall of 2007. I really scratched my head at the anger the mere mention of the idea generated and quite frankly the image the locals projected at the public hearings was very poor. There is a behind the scenes tie in to the Bay St Louis/FEMA map controversy and the post Katrina annexation of the marshland off Highway 603 commonly known as Shoreline Park. Flooding out with both Ike and Gustav has since taken some of the starch and venom away from the buyout concept. With the amount of higher land that is available in the area there is simply no excuse to not indulge our greener instincts and let marshland be marshland. And besides the duck hunting is excellent. Nowdy hopefully will take it from here as we’ve discussed this a good bit offline: Continue reading “Some stories I’m following this morning”