Fanfare for the common man: The only people getting 100% on the dollar in the Singing River Pension Debacle are the Lawyers

This is one of those circumstances where it is again good to have a variety of viewpoints on a news item because one could watch the Tee Vee news here on the Coast1 and come away thinking the Singing River Retirees have been made 100% whole but unfortunately this is wishful thinking. Shearing the flock has to be done in stages and now the stage shifts from the Federal Courthouse in Gulfport back to Chancery Court in Jackson County where the actual haircuts will occur.

The certainty in that statement lies in the dollars and cents currently in the plan’s trust account and the fact that the early payment schedule provided for in the settlement does not provide much immediate help to improve the overall financial condition of the trust. The only immediate benefit is non-monetary benefit in the finality and closure provided by the settlement itself.

From a larger standpoint and viewed through the lens of time the Singing River Pension Debacle is just the latest in a long line ‘incidents’ where the ordinary people in the community get sheared for the benefit of portions of the Jackson County political oligarchy.  Slabbed has documented several of these incidents including one of the most recent on these pages.  The financial results of these ‘incidents’ are on display for everyone around Jackson County to see at locales such as 435 East Beach in Ocean Springs.  For the folks in Jackson County, the regularity of these ‘incidents’ paid for by the public, or in this instance by both the public and the Singing River Retirees, represent the worse kind of tax imaginable because it is a hidden tax paid to the benefit of the few.

In the case of the Singing River Health System, the most galling aspect of this whole saga for the retirees is that a large portion of the very people that brought the County and the SRHS retirees this pension disaster remain firmly attached to the Health System, ostensibly skipping away as if nothing happened.  For the new SRHS trustees, I frankly can’t fathom on what basis they have to actually trust the advice they are being given to support their decision making. You gotta think based on what has occurred that in the next disaster they’ll be tossed aside as easily as their predecessors.

Finally, and once again despite the billowing smoke that signals the strong possibility that illegal acts have occurred, both state and federal authorities can’t ever seem to find anything wrong in Jackson County, in this case despite the documented instances where falsified annual retirement statements were furnished to the plan participants via US mail.  In many locales after a financial disaster of this magnitude someone responsible will go to jail.  In Jackson County, the perpetrators upgrade their yachts or build large houses in exclusive neighborhoods all while planning the next mass shearing.

I’ve read Judge Guirola’s decision and he explains a complicated process pretty well.  I’ve had many lawyers tell me that a fundamental truth about the Federal Court system is that it is designed to facilitate settling cases more so than litigating them to the bitter end. From that lens Guirola’s decision to ratify the class settlement was almost a foregone conclusion.  I harbor doubt an appeal has much of a chance of success at the Fifth Circuit.

So now the stage shifts back to Jackson County and Slabbed New Media will be there to tell the story and as always we’ll be emphasizing the little people that have again been trampled.

The 43 page opinion and order approving the settlement can be had by clicking the picture below. Stay tuned.

SRHS Settlement Order SRHS Settlement Order
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  1. Brought to you by Law Call.

67 thoughts on “Fanfare for the common man: The only people getting 100% on the dollar in the Singing River Pension Debacle are the Lawyers”

  1. Looks like Judge Guirola confirmed yesterday that wire and mail fraud are not against the law in Jackson County. Lou should have recused in this case for many reasons. Being a past JCBOS attorney is one reason.Having a long time personal relationship with the Roy Williams family,Robert Wilkinson and other involved attorneys is another. Dogan Wilkinson went judge shopping and obviously got their senior boating friend “on board”. The attorney fees paid by the taxpayers are sure to be spread around to all who pushed for a federal court settlement. Shakespeare’s King Henry VI had the correct solution for these shysters. God bless the hospital workers and retirees.

    1. Is sad to see such ugly remarks some are making about retirees. We have fought for everyone in the plan- not just ourselves. Had it not been for a retiree this plan would have ended in 2014. Some of us left due to health reasons as well as age. Others took an offer from the hospital in order to get rid of higher paying employees. All within the guidelines of the plan. The negative comments should be directed toward the people that are responsible for this mess that has turned all of our lives upside down.

  2. I am sick of hearing about the “poor retirees.” Yes it is likely that benefits will have to be reduced in order to insure that those of us who are still working and are plan participants will one day be able to draw a retirement!

    Many of the “poor retirees” never fulfilled working 30 years to draw retirement. I know for a fact that in 2005 when SRHS offered “early” retirement employees were given 5 years of time to go toward retirement benefits. That meant, for example, employee A had 28 credited years of service employee A had 5 years of credited service added to their 28 for a total of 33 years. For every year over 30, employee A receives an extra 2% for each year over 30 years entitling them to 56% as the percentage of retirement benefit employee A would draw based on the retirement calculation.

    I say all that to say this: Many retirees are drawing a benefit that current employee participants of the plan will NEVER be able to draw. That does not sound right to me!

    When and if benefits must be reduced it must be done in an equitable manner! Current retirees cannot expect to draw more than what currently employed plan participants with the same years of credited service will be able to draw.

    As for Judge Guirola, if anyone with facts should have asked for recusal if they thought he was not the judge to hear this case.

    During the fairness hearing, Judge Guirola told everyone in the courtroom where they should bring evidence of any crime–next door to the Federal Distict Attorney.

    1. Donna I’m not certain where to begin with your comment except to say I’m sorry you are gonna be taken to the chop shop and sheared along with the rest of the plan participants. I’ll also point out it is not any retirees fault SRHS management team cooked the books and lied for all those years. Your blaming the retirees for satisfying the retirement criteria set in the plan and actually retiring is misplaced as is your blaming some of the retires for taking the early retirement offered by SRHS, offered specifically to encourage people to leave.

      If you are not a current retiree there is a good chance you will receive less, perhaps nothing since the settlement contains no real financial guarantees should SRHS fail, which remains a very real possibility. As Judge Guirola said in his opinion, there is little chance SRHS could satisfy any judgment issued by his court. The same holds true of a chancery court judgment should SRHS default. Again that is not the fault of a single current retiree.

      But unlike you, current retirees don’t have many financial options. Sure there is food stamps and maybe SRHS will get a bit of work being reimbursed for drug testing them. Meantime keep fighting among yourselves, that will help insure nothing ever gets better over your way.

      1. I am turning 60 this October. I am no spring chicken myself and cannot make up what I have also lost. I am fully vested in the retirement system.

        So sorry if you disagree with my pinion. I am blaming no one but SRHS management for this whole debacle.

        Do you truly believe that the current retirees are owed more than the other plan participants?

        I know that sacrifices are going to have to be made and everyone needs to be treated fairly.

        I have been a nurse for 40 years. They are talking about making us work till 67 before we can retire. But then again, there is no concern for the 2400 or so vested participants who have yet to see one penny of the money that they contributed to this fund.

    2. You are either an idiot or a shill for the gang that couldn’t “mistake” straight.

      Here’s some more straight talk: there is not a single attorney or judge involved in this fiasco that isn’t looking out for their own interests and that includes Lou Giurola; to wit, Barton and Denham are hoping get into the pockets of Jackson County, SRHS, various insurance and bonding companies, etc. Reeves, Mesteyer, etc. are looking to get a $6.5 million dollar pay-day. The SRHS attorneys are milking anyone with a checkbook and the judges, special masters and trustee are feathering their own nests via banking some love for the future. If anyone thinks Federal judges can’t act like plain ol’ greedy backscratchers, one need not look too far: Walter Nixon (MS Coast) and Thomas Porteus (LA). I’m not saying Guirola is corrupt, I’m simply saying that Federal judges CAN be corrupt. And if _ANY_ of the beneficiaries of the SRHS retirement plan thinks _ANY_ of the “legal team” is looking out for them, you are sadly mistaken.

      That said, the idea that a Federal judge, if presented evidence of crimes, would simply suggest talking to the USA next door is offensive, even revolting. A Fed judge can do a whole lot with such evidence. Let me offer this: if the evidence had been of a crime against him/her, or family or friends, or simply something that he/she took an interest in, you’d see just exactly what a Fed judge can do if he/she so chooses. Moreover, the same thing, the Judiciary Act of 1789, created the Federal judiciary as well as the United States Marshals Service. If a Fed judge calls a USA and says, “I’ve got a person in my courtroom with evidence of federal offenses,” they’ll be at least one AUSA there before he can hang up. The idea that the Fed judge presented with evidence of public corruption has no avenue to act is ridiculous.

      If Lou Giurola was actually presented with even a scintilla of evidence of public corruption and blew it off, he ought to be ashamed of himself. The bottom line is the whole scenario is yet another of the many, many stains on the MS bar and judiciary.

      1. Judge Guirola was presented with evidence of mail fraud. Maury Thompson testified in court–he had not lost any of the documents.

        It is frustrating to even think that you are correct but I must agree with you re that fact. I hoped that the Judge would report what had been testified to in his court but he just told us to go next door.

        1. If you are correct – that Guirola, a Federal judge, was presented with documentary evidence of alleged mail fraud, esp. in a fairness hearing involving class action litigation over a pension plan’s possible failure, but merely _suggested_ that the USA’s office was next door – then Guirola needs to be investigated by at least two Federal law enforcement agencies. If he has a boat in a slip owned or controlled by Roy Williams (or any lawyer practicing before him), that needs investigation.

          Actually, depending on certain factors of the situation, every member of the bar present may have had certain duties _IF_ documentary evidence of a potential federal offense had been presented, suddenly or otherwise, in open court, depending upon the specific circumstances of this Mr. Thompson’s testimony. That said, expecting any of these clowns to do anything remotely approaching the proper thing is like expecting a unicorn to deliver good coffee from Starbucks.

          Speaking of AUSAs, some folks are wondering what John Dowdy is up to since his sudden, mostly unreported resignation as head of the criminal section of the Southern District’s US Attorney’s office. Nothing on the District’s website and just a couple of news stories: one at the Sun Herald mentioning his “weekend resignation, effective immediately” and another in San Antonio, focusing more on the Mikal Watts case aspect of it. I’ve heard a couple of rumors, but nothing concrete. What’s odd is that he supposedly had one major case: the alleged BP fraud of Watts, et al. He was supposedly heavily invested with a trial soon scheduled. Suddenly, it’s never mind, he’s quitting, with no word from the US Attorney, the district, the media, nothing. Anything is possible, but it doesn’t seem “normal.”

          One rumor suggests that since he wants to have a career in MS as private attorney, he didn’t want to be anywhere near the situation when things got serious for certain folks. Another suggests that he had “issues” of his own related to the “coast economy.” Curiously, those that fall into the “he had his own issues” camp also theorize that Judge Guirola might have exposure to similar “issues.” I can’t say with any personal knowledge what might be the reason(s), but some of Guirola’s rulings are “interesting,” to say the least. If Guirola does have a boat in Roy Williams’ slip, that’s “interesting.” There is precedent for MS federal judges getting caught in “interesting situations” as well as the MS Supreme Court and Bar dealing with those “interesting situations” in “interesting” ways. Again, look no further than impeached former Federal Judge Walter Nixon and that whole fiasco.

          From what I understand, various folks with badges have gathered quite a bit of info on numerous folks on the coast and could rock a lot of worlds should they A) decide to and/or B) get the go-ahead. Do they want to? Will they get the go-ahead? That remains to be seen. When trough-hog types get into such situations, they realize that they do not have friends or family, they have potential co-defendants and co-conspirators and Feds, especially career types with no horse in this or that localized race, can be very patient when building a case.

          Perhaps tangentially, perhaps not: the sentencing for yet another coast “businessman” busted for trough-hogging, Robert Simmons, has been delayed. Is that related? Folks may or may not ever know.

  3. I h.ave some “personal experience” with CROOKED Federal Judges here in the Eastern District of Louisiana. They are all definitely NOT “above reproach. Two come immediately to mind, althought this is not intended to be a comprehensive list: The “crooked as a snake”, the “Dishonorable” Stanwood R. Duval, Jr., and the “lazy, stupid and corrupt” Ivan L. R. Lemelle. Believe me that I know of what I speak. If anyone wants “chapter in verse”, I am prepared to supply it for each of these miscreants. Ashton O’Dwyer.

  4. If anybody thinks for a minute that a judge is going to looks at facts and act on the law then they are deluding themselves. Just take a quick look at the justice the public got with Tina Schumate and Scott Walker. This judge was kin or got a substantial “donation” from somebody. And by the way just because some were offered a early pay out doesn’t mean they were not going to get the short payment like all the other retirees. To blame the retirees that paid into the system with a predetermined payout schedule and then the hospital system to not pay their portion it just outright criminal. And not to mention what they did with the money. Remodeling buying artwork buying new buildings out on highway 90 that were unneeded but owned by “connected” businessmen. Sounds a lot like what DMR did and is now doing. The retirees deserve what they earned, not what is being characterized as what they are owed. This is mean spirited and outright cruel. McKay and his lynchmen businessmen were in on this and he like the rest of them should be held legally liable.

  5. This is a waste of time to follow through with what Judge Guirola stated about going next door with your evidence of wrong doings to the federal authorities. Some retirees have already gone this route to no avail so far. With a truck load of evidence against DMR, the feds only gave slaps on the wrists to a few corrupt employees while others got off scott free and some are still employed at this entity. There is little justice in our state and our elected officials are to blame for most of the corruption since they do not speak up about the lawlessness. All they are looking out for is to be reelected!

  6. Does anyone know for a fact if FBI are NOT investigating SRHS or whether or not Judge Guirola referred what he heard in court over to the FBI? I totally agree with Donna Broun’s statement that the current employees will suffer the most. It’s awful what SRHS did to the pension fund! If it were for no settlement, we would only get what we paid or lump sum discounted to present day value! I’m grateful for it & totally trust all lawyers who were involved & Judge G! My lawyers are not your good ole boy cut a deal type & I take offense to that. Ignorance or being poor losers is why people make such accusations. What in the world does he have to gain by not following the law. He has a lot to loose & I don’t believe any friendship would supersede that! Besides the Judge knows the law better than any of you & he backs up his rulings siting “case law” etc.

    1. Barbara Jones I appreciate you sticking up for me! I just have a hard time believing Judge Guirola is not honest but maybe I am a fool for believing. Hell, I never believed my hospital would do what it has done but it did! I am hopeful settlement will be successful!

      1. Donna his ruling is the right ruling based on all the evidence presented, therefore, their’s no reason to doubt him. Your lawyer & mine have impeccable reputations. They did not lead us down the wrong path.

        1. Barbara, your lawyers are idiots and they have already led you down a primrose path for no other reason than lining their own pockets. Their reputation among the relatively few decent lawyers in MS is that they are ambulance-chasing, money-grubbing embarrassments to the legal profession. Oh, by the way, are you represented by the Barton-Denham rabble or the pack of mouth-breathers led by Reeves, et al?

          Either way, don’t feel bad – the other side’s folks are about as intelligent, competent and honest as the morons repping you and the rest of the pension plan victims.

          Two competent (and honest) associates could have settled the pension part of the SRHS for less than 100 total billable hours. Hell, _ONE_ competent, honest associate could have settled it the exact same way for less than 50 hours, but the optics would have been terrible and under the circumstances, having both “sides” repped would have been the best course.

          1. Lol, I guess Mr Numm-a- dumb I should’ve hired you as my lawyer ha,ha. Now that you have enlightened me as to what I big mistake I made in hiring my lawyers, I won’t sleep a wink tonight 🙁. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom! Lol

  7. Personally, I think Mississippi is so corrupt that the FBI have washed their hands of anything they can get by with since this is so much graft, etc., they do not know where to start.

    1. John a retired FBI agent I met at a social a few months back said to me, you never know what the FBI are doing. He said, suddenly some folks may get a tap on the shoulder.

      1. Well, Barbara, at least some of the folks with whom you are associating know what they are talking about. I also suspect that some of your new friend’s old friends might be tapping on some of your other friends’ shoulders. Might have already tapped on a few, too. That is another thing that often goes unknown, even amongst “friends.” Next time you see your new friend, ask him about his old friends with other shoulder-tapping Federal agencies, given that the MS coast has become such a “friends-helping-friends” target-rich environment.

          1. Ah. Your attorneys, whichever ones they happen to be, love clients like you: even less literate than they are.

            As for hiring an attorney, no honest, reputable attorney would have been “hire-able” or accepted clients per se in this type of situation, which is not to say they wouldn’t have helped out truly pro bono. Similarly, no honest, ethical attorney with the pension as their client would have gotten into this mess. Unfortunately, those qualities are wholly bereft in this situation. Had the attorneys on either “side”possessed those qualities, this could have been settled in a couple of days for little or nothing in legal fees.

            Here are the unalterable facts: the pension is finite pool of funds and its administration’s (i.e., the person or persons “running” the pension) purpose is to properly and prudently manage those funds so as to be able to amortize the payment of benefits to the intended beneficiaries for [X time period]. Some portion of the funds necessary to accomplish that singular mission are not there. There are discreet and finite (potential, realistic) sources from which the pension might secure a partial recovery of those funds, such as insurance, liability bonds and the financial assets of any person or entity found to be liable for the aforementioned non-funding. The insurance and bonds are what they are; there is coverage or there is not. In any case, there is not (or rather, there should not be) any reason for the “retirees” to sue the pension, it is the pension administration and its legal counsel who should be pursuing, and suing if necessary, any person or entity who caused the underfunding (or has provided “insurance” against such action and balks at paying). If the current pension administration cannot or will not do its job, it should be replaced with an administration that will.

            Paying many millions of dollars to, essentially, sue your own money might seem necessary (or even reasonable under the circumstances) to laypersons who have no reason to know better. Attorneys, on the other hand, are expected to know better and refrain from such activity, even if there is someone with a big ol’ checkbook asking, “how much would you like?” The sad thing is that many of the attorneys do know better – they just don’t give a shit about you, the pension, the taxpayers or anything other than own interests as long as that big ol’ checkbook is open. Attorneys like yours are the cause of the fear, distrust and even hatred of attorneys in general. The public never hears about the good, decent and honorable attorneys because they do not do things that warrant any real interest from the public. Think about it – there really aren’t any disparaging engineer, accountant or welder jokes because, for the most part, those folks just go about their jobs forthrightly without ever doing much of interest to the public. Think about this, too: what have ANY of the attorneys on any “side” of this fiasco EVER done to warrant having good reputations or being worthy of trust?

            1. Ohhhh if only I had consulted you before I hired my attorneys. But I must say from reading your suggestions you have no clue about this situation. Therefore, I must ask, how many documents (discovery) involved in this case have you perused Mr Numm-a-dumb? Obviously, NONE! You can speak from afar but without knowledge your advice is worth a big fat ZERO! 😉

              1. I’ve seen a number of docs and other information, but there isn’t really anything for the pension recipients to “discover” – there may well be things for the pension administrators to discover and based upon what is learned, demand payment and if necessary, initiate litigation (assuming they are doing a proper job). However, the pension fund in the SRHS mess is substantially underfunded with no available source of funds to completely restore it to what it needs to pay out as expected. It is not an entity such as, for example, an insurance company which has the money but is merely refusing to pay a claim for some reason, legitimate or otherwise. There is simply no way to litigate money into existence. If you are with Reeves et al, the way the “settlement” was structured, the lawyers will have collected and spent YOUR money long before you find out if the settlement actually results in you receiving the majority of your money, all with no recourse against those attorneys. So, you’ve paid them $6.5 million to get you nothing more than a promise that the pension admins won’t F it up again (with no recourse against anyone if they do). If you are with the other bunch, you’ve got your lawyers trying to keep this going because it is the only way they can get paid.

                Moreover, the pension fund “members” are/were essentially suing (and thereby causing further diminishment to) their own money. As a very simple example, let’s pretend an invitee gets hurt on commercially-worthless property owned by a corporation of which you are the sole shareholder and has no other assets except a bank account with $20,000.00 in it. The injured party needs $50,000.00 of medical treatment, which you are willing to try to pay for personally since you feel it is your duty and again, the corp has no assets except the illiquid property and the $20,000.00. How much sense would it make to try to hire a lawyer to sue the corp? Even if you do so and “win,” you really lose, because you have now spent money to get a judgment against your own corp, which you are well-aware has only $20,000.00 in liquid assets and the injured party still has the 50K in bills. And how ethical would you think any lawyer who agreed to take the case? Would you think that lawyer any more or less ethical whether he took it on contingency, a flat fee or hourly billing? Or would it make more sense for the attorney to explain that litigation isn’t the proper or economically-reasonable course and refer you to an accountant who might be able to at least mitigate things via favorable tax treatment(s) of your payment, possible transfer of the 20K to you (or the injured party or medical providers as partial payment), negotiation with the medical providers, etc.?

                And for what it is worth, $6.5 million today, compounded at a 10% return, would be $182,665,839.51 in 35 years ($96,104,737.91 at an 8% return or $27,152,113.10, 10%, 15 years).

                And I’ll ask again: you said that your lawyer and Donna’s lawyer have “impeccable reputations” – upon what do you base that claim?

  8. Mr numm-a-dumb, let me pose a few questions for you to ponder:
    1) how would my “impeccable lawyers” have known the horrible financial status of hospital before litigation?
    2) could this possibly be the reason for the settlement?
    3) would I have been better off to have taken the lump sum (hospital’s plan) discounted to present day value?
    4) why would the honorable Judge Houston say the negotiations were hard fought, if it could’ve been achieved so easily, as you claim, in less than 50 hours? Were you there?
    And I could go on & on but you get the idea…there is a lot you are obviously not aware of! I’m always entertained by the rubbernecker lol, who is looking from afar & then thinks they know exactly what happened! However, it leaves me very 😖

    1. Barbara, I’ll give my *opinions* – which like any opinions previously expressed would be *opinions,* not “advice,” legal or otherwise -on the answers to your 4 questions if you’ll answer the 1 question I’ve asked twice before:

      1. You said that your lawyer and Donna’s lawyer have “impeccable reputations” – upon what do you base that claim?

      1. “Cunnigham Bounds LLC”
        Requires no further explaining unless you are unfamiliar with this most pretigious firm. Enjoy your read on their very successful & highly respected accomplishments.

        I do not really want you to answer my questions. I have been well represented & was very grateful a firm of this magnitude took our case.

        1. Barbara wrote:

          “‘Cunnigham Bounds LLC’
          Requires no further explaining unless you are unfamiliar with this most pretigious [sic] firm. Enjoy your read on their very successful & highly respected accomplishments.”

          It seems you cannot express a knowledgeable opinion about whatever their legal “accomplishments” may or may not be. That is perfectly understandable for a layperson with no real legal experience, training or knowledge. They are nothing more (or less) than yet another firm that specializes in PI, mass tort, etc. True enough, the firm has been reasonably financially-successful (more than some, less than others), but there is nothing remotely “prestigious” about them and they are in no way “highly respected” amongst knowledgeable legal observers insofar as their overall legal abilities or accomplishments.

          But here is something to think about: the so-called “accomplishments” of such firms do nothing more than perpetuate the “game” of Plaintiff’s firms and many corresponding defense firms who have a symbiotic relationship in “milking” money from large pools of money, be it insurance companies, large corporations or this case, a pension fund, potentially its insurance and bonding companies, and various tax bases. Neither “side” would be nearly as “successful” without the other. There is nothing remotely “prestigious” or “respected” about it among decent, ethical and responsible members of the legal profession.

          1. Again, your “opinion” as you said & very laughable I must say. I’m tired of conversing with an ignoramous! Sayonara, numm-a-dumb-dumb! 😂😂😂

            1. Yeah, I understand. Maybe if I had been “siting” some “pretigious” case law like “Judge G,” you would not call me an “ignoramous.”

              As I have said before, I sincerely wish all the SRHS pension victims good luck and that all get as close to what you were promised as possible. Unfortunately, I suspect all of you will need all the luck you can muster.

  9. There is no way SRHS will be able to make payments. Look at all of the lost specialists. Look at the cost of the ED and IPS. Look at the number of overpaid administrators and physicians. The doctors sure have been quiet. Wonder why? You can’t cut your way to prosperity. That $6.4 million that went to Mestayer and Reeves- could have been used for raises.
    Raymond James is about to do some serious nut cutting and Kevin and his crew will simply point to them as the bad guys. I believe a 10% layoff is conservative. This whole thing was #madeformestayerandreeves

  10. Dick and Zach Scruggs had so much faith in their “impeccable” attorney’s abilities, they felt the need to bribe judges.

    1. More than happy to have your comment with us but be aware that because you commented via proxy, it went straight to the spam que. Had it not been the last comment in the que where I spotted it, it likely would have been flushed with the others.

    2. If you don’t mind an “ignoramous” (I gotta say, that tickles the shit out of me!) chiming in, re: Dick and Zach Scruggs. There is no indication of which I am aware that they felt the need to bribe anyone. Assuming the charges were absolutely correct and accurate (and generally speaking), Dick was guilty of going along with what he thought was Timmy Balducci et al attempting to influence (or “earwig”) a judge and Zach was guilty of knowing about but failing to report the crime (“misprision”). A side-note: Scruggs’ co-defendant Sidney Backstrom’s father was (retired state judge) Jim Backstrom, who was Denham’s law partner after retiring from the bench.

      Among the things often left unaddressed in various writings is why Balducci thought Judge Lackey might be subject to earwigging or accepting bribes. And then, there is the whole Ed Peters/Bobby DeLaughter aspect, which also brought the Eaton Corp v. Frisby fiasco into the mix. Curiously, one of the “special masters” who lambasted Peters’ influence over Delaughter was none other than David Dogan of Dogan and Wilkinson. Of course, his alleged indignation didn’t prevent he and his firm trying to further their own influence over various courts/judges, from the coast Chancellorship via Paula Yancey, large campaign contributions and other “support” of various appellate court judges, etc., etc. And Dogan’s ethics didn’t interfere with his alleged attempts to screw his wife over by misreporting his income and assets in their divorce. And that is just the tip of iceberg with regards to Dogan and Wilkinson’s “respectability” and reputation. Various other attorneys and firms (nearly all are the aforementioned symbiotic defense firms) associated with the SRHS “side” (and its connected entities and people), such as Page, Mannino, Peresich (particularly the Peresich brothers), Billy Guice, Simpson, former chancellor and Dogan and Wilkinson partner Chuck Bordis cheating on his wife with now-Chancellor Fondren’s wife, etc., etc. have been in “situations” in which their ethics, honesty and “impeccable” reputations have been fairly questioned.

      Of course, there are numerous situations involving attorneys from the other “side:” Barton, Denham, Reeves and his various partners, etc., have all had very serious questions raised, often in open court and backed by evidence, about their ethics, honesty, reputation, etc., with things ranging from having cheated clients and partners to – again, surprise, surprise – involvement in influencing judges. And in the midst of all of this Mississippi muck, Alabama’s “most prestigious” shining polestar of ethics swoops in with an “impeccable reputation,” engages in “hard fought negotiations” and wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, for a mere $6.5 mil of OPM, gets SRHS’s wildly underfunded, horribly mismanaged pension fund to give a promise that the check will probably be in mail. Maybe. Someday. Possibly. But no promises. And if it isn’t, too bad, fuck you. How much “hard fought negotiations” can it possibly take to get an insolvent entity to agree to do damned little with no liability attached?

      As for the judges, Hilburn has been excoriated in writing by Federal judges for his asinine, pandering and idiotically-written rulings/opinions (surprise, surprise – in one case, in favor of Scruggs) and Giurola has issued numerous rulings that have left knowledgeable and neutral observers scratching their heads, wondering how he came up with THAT. As to MS appellate courts, I have personally heard several “biglaw” partners state in public – with no case before the courts, based solely on issued opinions – things like, “a bunch of God-damned idiots,” “utter morons,” and “unfit to adjudicate traffic tickets.” Other nationally-known legal scholars and pundits have published things saying uncomplimentary things about those courts. Suffice it to say that MS lawyers and judges aren’t, as a group, held in the highest esteem in the overall US legal community. Alabama lawyers and courts don’t fair any better: two words – Roy Moore. To be sure, there are numerous excellent, honest, ethical, truly “impeccable” and financially successful attorneys and as well as very decent, competent judges in both states. And likely as not, most folks have never heard of many of them.

      1. I get tickled with numm-a-dumb, too! I see it as banter because (not sucking up, lol) I believe your are “fairly” lol, intelligent. Just a lil “ignorant” of the facts of our case. Uh ohhh, my sayonara was short lived! Maybe I should sign off as…bye bye for now!😉

        1. I’m very familiar with the *relevant* facts of the pension mess. The SRHS fiasco, and particularly the pension plan mess isn’t the first mis-managed, underfunded pension plan nor will it be the last. There is no set of facts in any such situation that will result in non-existent funds being created via litigation. And no, spending millions won’t help, either.

          Perhaps an opinion as to one of your questions might help. You asked, “3) would I have been better off to have taken the lump sum (hospital’s plan) discounted to present day value?”

          First, some caveats: A) I do not know you, your personal investing abilities/knowledge or those of who you might look to for advice, B) I do not know, and do not wish to know, your personal finances, including potential tax implications, C) I do not know the personal finances, investing abilities, tax situation, etc. of anyone who is covered by the SRHS pension, and D) I do not know, and do not wish to know, the exact specifics of what you or any other individual might have received as a lump sum distribution in a proper, fair disbursement situation.

          That said, assuming a proper, proportional distribution of the corpus as it stood at the onset (or perhaps onslaught) of the TROs, etc. and assuming a hypothetical recipient (or his/her investment advisor) would and could invest with the same general ability, knowledge and skill as the current or likely potential pension administrators, then yes, under those circumstances, such an individual would have been better off to take a lump sum prior to many millions of the pension’s already-lacking corpus and potential “recoverable funds” being reduced by attorney’s fees, special master’s fees, trustee’s fees, etc., etc., etc. Using rough math, something in the range of 10-15% of the corpus and thus far, all “external funds,” have gone to these costs. At this point, the pension has burned up about 15-20% of what it would have had available to make such lump sum distributions, assuming the $6.5 mil gets paid as per the settlement. Plus, the beneficiaries of the pension have suffered various degrees of emotional and economic damage as a result of the delay.

          Now, what any competent attorney could have accomplished very quickly, assuming an honest counterpart at the pension, was to distribute the existing corpus and create a “trust fund” to which not only “recovered funds” could be placed, but SRHS could have also contributed funds, as and if reasonably available, to further recompense some portion of the unavailable corpus at distribution and then used to further proportionally compensate the beneficiaries of the pension fund.

          Naturally, this does present several issues, such as:

          1) many of the recipients do not have the ability, knowledge or skill to invest in such a way as to approximately duplicate the returns of a properly-managed pension, 2) it requires an honest counterpart at the pension and the newly-created “pension trust,” 3) it assumes that the whole situation will be objectively investigated so as to facilitate maximum recovery from *ALL* potential sources while keeping in mind that a reasonable investment that turned sour is not actionable but active mismanagement (or willfully negligent oversight) likely is, 4) folks would almost certainly never be “100% whole,” but unfortunately sometimes life is just not fair.

          On the other hand:

          1) the recipients would no longer be in any danger of potential future “situations” of the corpus once distributed – one cannot steal or misappropriate their own money once they have received it, 2) the uncertainly as to at least a large portion pension corpus is resolved, 3) both the costs and liabilities of the pension and trust are greatly reduced; they no longer are charged with any substantive management, only appropriate distribution of funds as they are received, so a much greater portion of any future funds recovered are available for distribution to the beneficiaries, and 4) perhaps as important as anything else, under such circumstances, getting a certain, here-and-now 60-70% of something AND having at least some reasonably arguable recourse as to the remainder is greatly preferable to a weak promise from a shaky promiser for a possible 85-90% of a maybe, sometime in the unspecified future, with no recourse against anyone whatever happens.

          Of course, all of the above is negated by the biggest two controlling factors thus far at play: 1) not a single most prestigious attorney currently involved would have gotten a multi-million dollar payday so as to increase their, ahem, highly respected accomplishments, 2) likely as not, more than one somebody (or entity) would have been made to disgorge funds and there may well have been a few shoulders tapped on, followed by trips to the old graybar hotel.

          But remember, I’m an “ignoramous” (that still tickles me), so what do I know? I realize it doesn’t absolutely validate anything put forth, but an “ignoramous” with an Ivy League MBA and JD, along with other relevant education and fairly extensive experience in both law and business, all totally without blemish, might cause a few folks to grudgingly concede he might have valid insight and opinions without having extensively reviewed every scrap of paper thus far generated or produced (or even undiscovered) in this debacle.

          1. I didn’t expect you to be able to answer #3 but appreciate your long explanation of “why” you couldn’t. You can be as highly educated as you say but that still doesn’t mean you could’ve done a any better with a financially strapped hospital who does not want to continue a pension plan. They want to dump it! Who has legal authority to tell them they can’t, no one. Only thing they can legally be held accountable for (in civil court) is the money they failed to contribute from 2009-2014. The 6.4 million is chicken fee for my attorneys. Then divide it by all the other attorneys involved, it’s really not much compared to the multi millions they make time & time again. Sometimes a highly educated “Ivy” leaguer could fail to have good ole horse sense. This may not be the case with you but one thing for sure, you are an “ignoramous” lol, on the SRHS pension fiasco because you were not intimately involved. You are on the outside looking in…maybe peeped inside a lil but not enough to know.

            1. Barbara, I’ve already spent more time with this than I intended and you seem pleased with the situation, however it ultimately turns out. The emotional aspect of these unfortunate situations truly matters, so if you feel you are in a good place, you are are better off than many.

              Again, best of luck to all the employees and retirees caught in the SRHS pension fiasco.

              1. Thank you! I would like your opinion on it being appealed to 5th circuit by H & E? Also are you amused at the misspelling of “ignoramous” or just me referring to you as that? I am being funny! And, I like your log in name because I think you are saying, “none of your business” am I correct?

          2. Nunn Yabidnez, this is Donna the “idiot” (your words not mine). If I knew who you really were, I would have hired you with your MBA and Ivy League law degree.
            I must say you make a lot of sense!
            Should Denham and Barton appeal, do you think the 5th Circuit will send it back to the lower court?

          3. Any Ivy League credential is a rare bird in these parts. It stands out like a flamingo on Front Beach.

            1. I have followed the SRHS pension disaster since the first exposure of the problems.I have reviewed everything in print. I have read many comments by Barbara, who seems to have been on the Reeves settlement train from the beginning,which is her right.I have also followed the posts by Nunn. I always assumed there was a JD in the mix.The knowledge of judges,lawyers,local politicians ect. always lead me to believe that Nunn practiced law in Jackson County at some point.The comments posted by Nunn have been some of the best I have ever read on this blog.With that said, as a taxpayer, I am mad as hell that we are paying millions of dollars into the SRHS while not one person who is responsible for the pension’s demise has been deposed.

              1. The past JCBOS were a bunch of incompetent sorry bastards that should be ashamed to show their faces in Jackson County.The SRHS BOT appointed by them is a mix of Ashley Madison members, JJ Spa users,Wire /mail fraud condoning,investment amateurs and malfeasants as bad as this state as ever seen. In the end we have to help pay for the damage the worthless individuals done. The only guarantee Barbara and the other pension participants have is the fact that their attorneys will be paid in full with the taxpayer’s money before they know what they will receive.Keep up the great posts Nunn. The truth always upsets somebody.

              2. I think Nunn is an intelligent man but not knowledgeable enough of all the facts. As far as tax dollars go, BOS should have been contributing money each yr for indigent care. Most county Hospitals receive assistance for this.

                I worked at SRHS beginning 1979 & Jackson County BOSs NEVER contributed one dime towards the care of the indigent. Donna & I, along with all the other employees/retirees cared for these patients. So they have now decided to contribute for a limited time to assist hospital financially….it’s about time!

                You can judge my attorneys all you want but I was represented by the best. I was well informed & am very satisfied that the best that could have been achieved out of this mess has been. I think many of you are jealous of a 6.4 million payout, to be spread amongst many, is not a lot on a $150,000,000 settlement….equivalent to 4%. How many lawyers work that cheaply, Tommy, Tommy O Bommy?

              3. Since there could be some unlucky attorney who went from the Ivy League to Jackson County practice, I feel an obligation to save him or her any possible grief: I have never set foot in a Jackson County courtroom nor otherwise practiced there. I have met a few Jackson County and MS/AL coast attorneys over the last 40 years, including some directly or tangentially involved in the SRHS mess and have had various business dealings in the area, so I have seen and heard things. But knowledge of the goings-on along the MS coast is not limited to folks who practice there. As an aside, none of the SRHS-connected bunch I’ve met impressed me much either in person or by virtue of their legal activity, but other coast attorneys have impressed me as decent people and competent, honest attorneys.

              4. The Ivy league remark stirred up a perfect storm of speculation Nunn including speculation you are with the Mississippi Center for Justice.

                You remind me of Jeff Marr, but you he isn’t.

                In any event your identity is the topic of conversation in Jackson County.

  11. Thomas Sowell once wrote something like, “it takes considerable knowledge to realize the extent of one’s ignorance.” It’s an honor to converse with such an “ignoramous” as you Mr. numm-a-dumb

    With all the dots you’ve connected, it’s surprising you didn’t connect the ones running between Scruggs and Wilkinson. Anyone strolling through downtown plaza would recognize the name change on the old Jitney Jungle. If they walked another block they’d find an office with many lawyers late of Dogan & Wilkinson who had some involvement in recruiting plaintiffs.

    There are dots which lead to the doors of the current attorney general and his predecessor, to Oxford, and back to Pascagoula. Someone needs to follow that trail of breadcrumbs. It would be difficult to get far along without getting mired in the typical thick as pig shit Mississippi mud.

    As far as Guirola, several acquintances have expressed similar sentiments. The Fifth Circuit is going to get sick of seeing Guirola’s rulings about SRHS. If the Barton-Denham group appeals, that would be the third appeal on SRHS cases. Having read Guirola’s opinions, it appears he has fundamental problems reading and applying case law. It is even questionable if he even reads the cases he cites. The heavy judicial lifting required by the “biglaw” firms hired by KPMG and Chubb simply wasn’t brought to bear, thus their appeals.

  12. Barbara Jones said “As far as tax dollars go, BOS should have been contributing money each yr for indigent care. Most county Hospitals receive assistance for this.” Jackson County stopped subsidizing the SRHS years ago because under reasonable management it was not needed. So I guess Barbara you are all for placing a further burden on property owners so more inflated doctors practices could be purchased? Or so more Healthplex type buildings could be built and leased at well above the market rate? Or maybe so more Harrison County real estate could be purchased to build more clinics that are destined to fail ? I will continue….

    1. Barbara, with more money in hand maybe all upper management could increase each others pay not based on results but because a few extra mills have been extracted from the taxpayers. Could also give larger bonuses to these same mismanagers. Maybe even increase the retirement benefits by 150% till death do they part. Some extra money could be used for more Point Clear retreats.I hear a large group from the SRHS are there this weekend.Maybe we the taxpayers should just pay all of the money into the pension fund because the incapable idiots on the JCBOS and the SRHS do not have time to properly oversee what they should not have been overseeing to begin with because they have zero abilities to do so. The point I made earlier still applies. All taxpayers should be mad as hell because not only have we had to pay attorney Billy Guice over $1,000,000 to tell us “I think I know what happened”we are going to be responsible for paying millions more. All of this and they did not even have the desire to depose Chris Anderson. In fact they have allowed all persons involved to be released from any liability whatsoever. That is except the taxpayers. Just as you have a desire to receive your retirement money, I have a desire to not pay for the crooked actions of others. I think Nunn is correct about how this matter could have been resolved so much quicker and for so much less. Oh yea Barbara, thanks for the Tommy O Bommy nickname. I like this one better than Nunns and I pray it does not cost me any more money.

      1. I totally agree with you about the anger over tax payers footing the bill for SRHS’s mismanagement of funds. I realized later I should have said that so I will take my “mea culpa” for not acknowledging that fact. The hospital needs to cut the high salaried employees (administration) who are responsible for this big mess by firing them. If settlement is approved by the 5th circuit a new turn around firm is to be hired by BOS’s to oversee the management of the hospital. I DO NOT blame BOS’s for requiring this as a caveat to agree to contribute monies to the hospital (for indigent care). I will be letting my voice be heard loudly at BOS’s meetings for their to be a change in higher management. It will not be right to let go of the lil people which they are known to do who are the backbone of the hospital, without them you have nothing! I do think hospital should contribute the 5 mils, or at least some of it, each year for indigent care because of Medicare/Medicaid cuts. But not without authority to oversee how it is used. We were treated very wrong & I would love to see someone pay for it but the reality is, it is out of my lawyers hands. I am glad to see Judge G is forwarding “serious allegations” of criminal wrongdoing to the U.S. Attorney’s office. I wish things were different but strongly believe my attorneys have achieved the best possible outcome from a very bad situation! I always enjoy a good debate & like a lil banter; hence, the nicknames. Adios Tommy O’ Bammy 😉

  13. If I am a member of the pension and have about 14 years vested, should I go ahead and take my money out? Aren’t most of the plan participants current employees? I seriously doubt there will be any money left by the time I retire at age 67.
    Shouldn’t all the employees who are vested pull their money out? Would that bankrupt the plan?

    1. That’s a good question. Several people I know are thinking about taking theirs out. Most have 20 plus years in and don’t trust the system anymore. I can’t blame them if I could not draw on mine for another 15 to 20 years I would take the money now. Leaving it in could be a very risky thing.

      1. The people I was talking about left the system before all this started. Did find out that they can get their money now.

        1. I see. Not sure how many people left their money in the system that way but getting back their contributions back would be a win win for both the pension trust and those folks that no longer want to chance the coming changes to the lifetime annuity benefit.

    2. If you are vested and have separated employment from SRHS, you can choose to take your money or leave it in the pension plan. Pulling your money out would not/will not bankrupt the plan and SRHS would be happy if you would pull your money out. The System would love for everyone to take their money out as it would solve the problem-at-hand. In fact, that’s exactly what SRHS intended to do in November 2014….liquidate the plan by returning to all vested and non-vested participants their contributions plus interest. This would have (and still is) a bargain from the plan’s perspective since employees have never contributed more than 3% of their salaries.

      Back in the old days…..during new employee orientation, administration often bragged that, on average, retirees realized a positive ROI after approximately ***two years**** of retirement. Meaning….after about 24 retirement checks or so, a retiree got back everything they had contributed over the course of their employment. Wow. Let that sink in for a moment.

      When the Board closed the plan to new participants (any employee hired after 9/30/2011 was not eligible to participate in the pension plan) it was because it was obvious the math wouldn’t work. When the actuaries presented the hard truth to the Board, there was “table talk” about additional measures (increasing the employee contribution percentage, cutting benefits, resuming SRHS contributions, etc.) but the conclusion was that those changes would have been dramatic and unpopular….so it was decided to just close the plan and try and “ride it out”. In closing the plan back in 2011, the Board was implicit in admitting it was unsustainable. Everybody who was part of that discussion knew it…including former CEO Chris Anderson and then COO Kevin Holland. In hindsight, if tougher measures would have been implemented in 2011 (when the plan was closed) the meltdown that started in November 2014 could have possibly been avoided. Yet another classic case of “kicking the can down the road”.

  14. “Connect the dots” is the key. All of the corruption in MS – MDMR, SRHS, etc., and those behind it can be identified if one finds and connects the dots. And, no one will go to jail because the “dots” have placed their people at key levels in all departments. For example – our state auditor, attorney general and U.S. attorney John Dowdy, all conspired to hide the MDMR records from the public and defied a court order. They are not going to investigate, much less indict there fellow cohorts.

    And, I suspect the main dots are Trent Lott, Haley Barbour, Roger Wicker, Thad Cochran and the firm of Butler-Snow-? in Jackson for whom Lott and Barbour are consultants. I believe Lott and others have been hand-picking judges and prosecutors for years and when they need a favorable opinon, they manipulate one of their cohorts into play – e.g., Breland Hilburn.

    Now, for Judge Guirola – how do the dots connect? Judge Guirola’s dad was the Chief Engineer on the NMFS research vessel, Oregon II, based at Pascagoula, MS. Lott’s brother-in-law works at NMFS, so it’s no puzzle to me how Judge Guirola got his appointment and why his rulings tend to favor anyone of the “dots.”

    And, if you recall the recent Sun Herald article talking about the wonderful job our local federal judges and prosecutors have done – story was a follow-up to story about prosecutor Ruth Morgan retiring – you should have noted that all or most of the judges were appointed during Lott’s heyday and I’m sure he and Cochran had a lot of input into whom Presidents Reagan or Bush appointed.

    Story was just a dog-and-pony show story, meant to lull the public into a false sense of security that our justice system is working well and above board. And, while the article patted them all on the back – meanwhile – S. K,
    Anthony’s day in court for being part of the corrupt scheme gets delayed again. Keep it delayed until the public furor dies or wanes and then get away with a quickie settlement that lets Anthony off with minimal punishment, ’cause we don’t want the real truth of who all was involved exposed. Same as with the MDMR records.

    The “dots” have the deck stacked and I doubt anything will change until they all die out.

    1. When read in that light, this quote takes on a totally different meaning:

      Chief U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. swore them all in with an admonition: “You occupy your position because the people have entrusted in you certain powers. Wield it with responsibility and fidelity.

      “Never forget who put you here and what they’re asking you to do.”

      http://www.sunherald.com/news/article48032785.html

    2. Scruggs set up a toll-free number and hired a bank of operators to handle the incoming calls. He had signed up Lott as a client, as well as the Democratic congressman Gene Taylor, who also lost his home to the storm, and Louis Guirola, Jr., a federal district judge. Scruggs was featured in a long article in the New York Times, in which he declared, “I’m not going to sit still for this. I’m going to bring every organizational and legal skill I possess to make these guys do the right thing under their policies.”

      http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/05/19/the-bribe

    3. At the confirmation hearing, Sen. Lott had this to say:

      But I first came to know him I guess over 20 years ago where he was in my hometown of Pascagoula, Mississippi, and served as assistant district attorney. Then he was an attorney
      in private practice and attorney for my home county Board of Supervisors and an attorney for the Mississippi Highway Department.
      I remember back in those days that I was impressed with him, and I remember a conversation–I am not even sure he will remember–oh, 10 or 15 years ago when he indicated that he would just be so honored to ever be able to be considered for the Federal judiciary. And we talked about that because–a lot of people don’t think about it 10, 20 years down the road, and I urged him to do everything he could to get the proper credentials and get all the experience he could. I don’t know
      if that influenced him, but I do know that he went on to Texas where he served as the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas in 1990. He became U.S. magistrate judge for the Western District of Texas in 1993. He returned to Mississippi in 1996 to become a U.S. magistrate judge for the Southern District of Mississippi, the position he currently holds.

  15. Remember Tina Schumate bought the entire front row of seats with CIAP funds so her, her family, and the Walkers in tow could sit arm in arm at the ship dedication in Pascagoula with good ole boy Trent. And DMR sent campaign checks from the foundation to Trent and many other elected officials that Stacy Pickering and crew used low level DMR employees as cover and sacrifice. Trent Lott is the weapon that Tina and Bill used to keep the DMR under control and the backstabbing publicity seeking hound Pickering found this out and buried it deep with a lot of innocent people. And we reelected this thug so he could use his campaign funds to pay for house repairs, family vacations, and a car for his daughter. What a moral standard bearer for ethics.

    1. Point Park–I can assure you there’s a lot of things that Ms. Shumate and her sister did which were blatantly ignored and covered up. What we are talking about here is blatant fraud and signature forgery which were presented to Pickerings auditors but they did nothing but go after my wife. When you speak of Trent Lott the ultimate connection is Ann Hebert and her son and that is how they got away with so much.

      1. Eye second. The whole DMR investigation was crooked and it was specifically designed to target certain employees while attempting to save the precious members associated with the RRRSM. Serving state jail time or not, I always found it “fishy” how Shumates case was prolonged and once convicted was not sent directly to the state prison. Oh, and let’s not forget while all this was taking place a new law was passed lessoning the sentence time for nonviolent offenders. Kind of funny isn’t it? I wonder if Pickering sent the DA and his crooked auditors a thank you note once all the dust settled?

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