Category Archives: Wilson v Scruggs

Wilson v Scruggs and the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows

“And so I am become a knight of the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows!”

Just a few months after finally reaching a settlement with Dickie Scruggs in a lawsuit stretching back 15 years, attorney William Roberts Wilson has moved into the office space that once housed his nemesis’ law firm on Oxford’s Square.

“Ever since watching ‘Intruder in the Dust,’ I’ve wanted an office on the Square,” Wilson said. He had previously worked out of Tuscaloosa, but he said that, after a decade and a half of financial issues, he could afford to make the move.

Faulker’s Intruder in the Dust may have inspired Wilson.  However, it is the similarity of Wilson’s story to what one source called the “social hyporocrisy” and “irresistible comedy” of Twain’s  The Prince and the Pauper that comes to mind.

“Social hypocrisy” and “irresistible comedy” are so common on the Square that Wilson -  a knight of the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows attempting to assume the role of the King of Torts – should feel right at home.

The government made his move even more affordable today when it settled Wilson’s claim Continue reading

Scruggs files a nothing here, move on Motion to Dismiss Young v Scruggs

After reading Eastland’s response for Patterson in the Wilson v Scruggs RICO case, it is difficult to disagree with the legal arguments of the Motion to Dismiss that Dick Scruggs filed in  Young v Scruggs; for example:

Plaintiffs’ pleadings fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”). Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Defendants engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity. Even if proven, Plaintiff’s allegations could not establish that any predicate acts posed a threat of continued criminal activity, as all of the alleged predicate acts mentioned in Plaintiffs’ Complaint are related to a single, discrete, otherwise lawful transaction.

The Memorandum Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss provides background and more about the basis for the Motion:

This case relates to Plaintiffs’ demands for money from Defendants Richard F. Scruggs and SMBD, Inc., their employer, under an attorney fee agreement signed in July 1999. Plaintiffs seek damages for Defendants’ decision in July 2005 to charge Plaintiffs with responsibility for satisfying a portion of a federal court judgment rendered against Defendants. Plaintiffs also seek damages for the residual effect of Defendants’ payment of certain legal fees to a law firm which represented Defendants in another litigated matter.

Plaintiffs pursue their quests for money under a variety of legal theories, including RICO, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. This Court should dismiss some or all of Plaintiffs’ claims. First, Plaintiffs have failed to sufficiently serve process on Richard Scruggs. Second, Plaintiffs have failed to state a RICO claim upon which relief can be granted. With dismissal of the RICO claims, this Court should decline to retain supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims. Even if this Court does retain jurisdiction, the applicable statute of limitations bars Plaintiffs’ claims related to the July 2005 decision to allocate responsibility to Plaintiffs for satisfying a portion of the federal court judgment. Continue reading

Y’all reports Scruggs denies bribing Judge DeLaughter in Response to Patterson’s cross-claim in Wilson v Scruggs

SLABBED covered the cross claim filed on behalf of Scruggs’ co-defendant Steve Patterson in Eastland stands behind Motion to Dismiss – Greer files cross-claim for Patterson in Wilson v Scruggs.  Alan Lange at Y’all Politics has a post up on the Response from Dick Scruggs: Scruggs denies Steve Patterson, also denies bribing Judge DeLaughter .  I have no doubt Lange and I share a common commitment to justice and factual reporting even when we hang our hats on different facts, their meaning, and context.  However, there’s no disputing these facts about the Scruggs’ response:

In…[the cross-claim]…Patterson’s attorney writes:

4. Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges that Scruggs is guilty of bribing Judge DeLaughter, and defrauding the plaintiff, by and through Peters, and that those actions caused a favorable result in the Wilson case. Patterson had no involvement at all in those circumstances other than introducing Scruggs to the local counsel, Peters. Patterson received no funds, was not compensated in any way, shape or form and is therefore guilty of no active negligence, but at most, passive negligence (which,he denies), and was completely unaware of the possibility that Scruggs would allegedly perform any, criminal act of any sort to bring potential liability upon himself and others.

However Scruggs responds:

4. The allegations contained in the first sentence of paragraph 4 are denied. Scruggs lacks information sufficient to admit or deny the remaining allegations contained in paragraph 4. Continue reading

Is there a doctor in the court? Patterson

…if this Court does find Wilson’s Amended Complaint deficient in any respect Wilson respectfully prays that he be given opportunity to amend his complaint to cure whatsoever deficiencies the Court might find.

While team Wilson was praying Judge Hittner would prescribe a cure, Defendant Steve Patterson’s attorney, Hiram Eastland, filed a Rebuttal declaring the deficiencies fatal.

Plaintiff’s opposition fails to resolve any of the shortcomings addressed in Mr.Patterson’s Motion to Dismiss. From denying the existence of a heightened pleading standard for fraud, to reiterating the same legally insufficient factual allegations, Wilson can point to nothing that would save his complaint from dismissal.

After finding there was “nothing that would save” Wilson’s complaint, Eastland eviscerated Wilson’s Opposition to Patterson’s Motion for Dismissal.

Plaintiff has failed to shed any new light on his Amended Complaint that would allow it to endure against Mr. Patterson. All of the fatal flaws that are reiterated in this reply exist for a reason: this is simply not a RICO case.

Eastland’s arguments, while specific to Patterson, have implications for other defendants and/or other litigation,, particularly those where the distinction between unethical and unlawful conduct has been blurred : Continue reading

Eastland stands behind Motion to Dismiss – Greer files cross-claim for Patterson in Wilson v Scruggs

Big football weekend here in the land of the slabbed; but, no sports channel was covering the settlement game – and one is definitely playing in Wilson v Scruggs.

Almost simultaneously with their settlement with Team Scruggs, Team Wilson filed a weak response to co-defendant Steve Patterson’s Motion to Dismiss – an obvious incentive to settle.

Apparently, it was also incentive for Eastland to stick with the playbook while co-counsel Greer went with the legal equivalent of wild Rebel and filed across-claim for Patterson that suggests there is still more to learn about the money paid Ed Peters:

Patterson’s only involvement in the circumstances surrounding this action was Continue reading

Breaking News – Wilson v Scruggs settles!

Remember Eastland dismantles RICO claim in Wilson v Scruggs? Well, he sure ‘nuf did – although Patsy Brumfield broke the story in the Daily Journal before I could get to my computer:

Roberts Wilson Jr.’s multi-million-dollar lawsuit against imprisoned ex-attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs has come to an end – it’s been settled, Wilson’s attorney, Charlie Merkel of Clarksdale tells the Daily Journal.

Wilson sued Scruggs and others, accusing them of not paying what he was owed years ago for his part in national asbestos litigation. He also claimed they owed him for using his fees to bankroll other national lawsuits, which yielded mega-fees for the attorneys involved.

One of those “others” was Scruggs co-defendant Steve Patterson and Eastland’s motion to dismiss the RICO case was written in his role as Counsel for Patterson. Continue reading

Patsy Brumfield scratches the surface in Too many connections for lawsuit against Scruggs et al…

In Too many connections for lawsuit against Scruggs et al, a post to her blog published by the Daily Journal, Patsy Brumfield touches on a subject that  has needed discussion since the indictment of Scruggs et al back in 2007:

Have you ever expressed your awe for how things just get “connected” in Mississippi?

Like, you find out your Mama is the governor’s second cousin or your former hometown baby-sitter is living down the street? Or you run into the mayor of Lucedale as you ride the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument? (That really happened to me.)

You know what I’m talking about.

Some know what Patsy’s talking about because they recall the motion filed by Scruggs, Scruggs and Backstrom for a change of venue:

Prominent members of the Northern Mississippi legal community, knowing full well the risks of prejudicing a venire in small-town Mississippi, have nonetheless piled on in condemnatory public statements about Scruggs. Clarksdale attorney Charlie Merkel told one reporter about the indictment: “I’m not surprised, because [Scruggs is] willing to use any means to an end. And it irks the hell out of me when Scruggs skates on the edge and makes the profession look bad.”  Elsewhere, Merkel called Scruggs’s alleged acts “despicable.” Grady Tollison, who represented Johnny Jones in the fee-dispute before Judge Lackey, alleged that Scruggs has “had a consistent pattern of violating his fiduciary duties to partners in these legal ventures.”  Another lawyer for Jones, Roy Percy went even further, declaring of Defendants in their hometown Oxford Eagle: “They should be ashamed to the deepest core. My clients are ashamed they were once associated with them…

Patsy did not have the local bar “connections” in mind when she wrote about the connections that appeared to force the Fifth Circuit to go to Texas to get a judge for the latest installment of legal cases against former Oxford mega-lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and co-horts: Continue reading

Wilson v Scruggs assigned to Texas Judge David Hittner

Talk about a case with legs! Patsy Brumfield has the story for the Daily Journal:

W. Roberts Wilson’s legal pursuit of former attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs has moved to a Texas judge.

Friday, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Edith H. Jones ordered Wilson’s lawsuit against Scruggs and his pursuit of money once belonging to former District Attorney Ed Peters to be presided over by Judge David Hittner of Texas’ Southern District. The order was not posted for public view until today. Continue reading

Recuse in the Scruggs news

A coincidence, perhaps? Northern district Judge Shannon Aycock (Wilson v Scruggs) and southern district Judge Sul Ozerden (Young v Scruggs) each recused from a case involving Dick Scruggs in Orders dated October 15, 2009.

Wilson v Scruggs was filed in federal court in North Mississippi and assigned to Judge Neil Biggers.  Shortly after Scruggs’ co-defendant Steve Patterson filed his Motion to Dismiss, Judge Biggers recused and the case was reassigned to Judge Shannon Aycock.

However, Judge Aycock filed a Waiver of Judicial Disqualification with the Clerk:

Unless a waiver is obtained from all parties and all counsel, Judge Aycock intends to disqualify in this proceeding because of these circumstances:

Judge Aycock’s Courtroom Deputy, Ginger McDaniel Sullivan, worked as a
paralegal with the Wm. Roberts Wilson, Jr. P.A., law firm in Jackson, Mississippi, from June 2001 to February 2005. In that position, Sullivan worked under the direction of William Roberts Wilson, Jr., Charles M. Merkel, III, and Roberts Wilson, Jr. During her employment, Sullivan was familiar with and worked on issues in the lawsuit Wilson vs. Scruggs, et al, First Judicial District of Hinds County Circuit Court. This litigation was pending when she began her employment and was not resolved as of the date she left the firm…

If a waiver is not received from all parties and all counsel, this Notice and any responses will be kept under seal by the clerk and not shown to the judge, nor will the judge be informed of the identity of any party or lawyer who declined to waive the disqualification. If the disqualification is not waived, the case will be reassigned to another judge.

Apparently waivers were not received from all parties as Judge Aycock recused and issued a related Order dated October 15, 2009. Continue reading

Biggers gives Wilson’s wheel of fortune another spin – Recusal puts hot potato in rotation

Who was “It” when Wilson v Scruggs became a game of hot potato? US Attorney Jim Greenlee?

It is clear that the Plaintiffs’ have filed this Motion in an attempt to circumvent the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure regarding discovery. As a preliminary matter, Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(d)(l) prohibits a party from seeking discovery “from any source before the parties have conferred as required by Rule 26(f), except … when authorized by [the] rules, by stipulation, or by court order.”

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(d)(I). The Rule 16.1 (A) Initial Order entered in this matter (Docket Number 53) reflects a Case Management Conference date of September 29, 2009, with an attorney conference of twenty-one (21) days prior. Because that Rule 26(t) Attorney Conference has not yet occurred, Plaintiffs are precluded from seeking discovery from any source at this juncture.

Not Greenlee.  The USA’s Special Appearance and Response to Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preservation and Retention of Documents makes it clear the USA does not want to play.

Maybe the Scruggs Defendants?

The Scruggs Defendants further object to the production of these documents to Continue reading