And it’s the bar down here on the coast that is having the bare knuckle brawl folks and the shame of it is I haven’t had a chance to add some much needed commentary but that changes with this post, which I’ll update as I gain time through the day. The short story is this. In one corner there is what I’ll term “the settlement retirees”, their counsel along with the Jackson County political establishment (most of it anyway). In the other corner are the “we want to be made completely whole retirees” and their counsel. The money stakes here are huge which is why the fight is turning very nasty, again exposing some old rivalries that I first noticed back during the Scruggs prosecution.
For me the question is settling now a better deal than fleshing things out via litigation. I did notice that a concern raised here about the handling of attorney fees was addressed.
First things first, someone sent me “retirees that want to be made whole” attorney Harvey Barton’s 2009 judgment via anonymous email a while back and I can’t find it in my extensive email archive. Nevertheless someone took the time to mail me a hard copy and I agree the time is right to explore the judgment and more importantly the legal concepts behind what Judge Persons found.
I’ve also seen and will post the second recusal motion of Special Judge Hilburn as it exposes some of the fault lines running under the Bar in greater detail.
Before I do any of that its worth pointing out that Slabbed began covering the Singing River Pension Meltdown because it was the exact type of story to which we were tailor made to cover and not because of the gruesome car crash quality to it all but because Slabbed could help get information out to help the retirees make informed decisions. We’ve reached the inflection point. Updates will be posted beginning with the flying muck below the jump as time allows.
Here are the first and second motions to recuse Judge Hilburn. Judge Hilburn has a Circuit Court background and he sits as a special judge over a Chancery Court matter, which in Mississippi carries significant procedural implications. The second Motion to recuse highlights the old case involving Dick Scruggs and Judge Hilburn that appeared on the old Folo blog, the text of that old post left in a comment here back in April. Both Motions are well worth the read as Plaintiff Almond complains that her case is being stonewalled while the federal court case involving a possible cram down type settlement binding on all the retirees progresses. Click to obtain the full pdfs:
But the muck was flying well before the above motions were filed because at a hearing after the proposed settlement was announced where Retiree Attorney Earl Denham made some accusations involving the proposed settlement plan trustee Steven Simpson that went well beyond anything I’ve seen published in the media (these are not presented n the following transcript excerpt), which I caution the reader is unofficial. What is clear is Singing River, Jim Reeves and company were not going to take a good muck fight sitting down and that is fodder for the next update:
After the second Motion to Recuse was file by Cynthia Almond’s Attorneys Harvey Barton and Earl Denham Singing River moved to Strike the Affidavit Harvey Barton filed with the Second Motion. In support of it attached was a 2009 case involving the Estate of S.A. McMillen that tagged Harvey Barton in a major damages award involved in what ironically turned factually on a major breach of fiduciary duty.
I personally found Judge Persons opinion in McMillen to be enlightening in some of the information it imparts and not for the reason that it was used by Singing River Health in trying to avoid Judge Hilburn’s recusal. That is next up as Slabbed analyzes the proposed settlement.