ICYMI: Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reverses Singing River Pension Settlement

The part the appellate panel at the 5th Circuit didn’t like involved how the attorney fees were paid out in relation to the financial risk assumed by the Singing River Pension retirees among other things. It goes back to Judge Guirola’s Courtroom per below:

Click to obtain full 29 page decision
Click to obtain full 29 page decision

TransportRoom Continue reading “ICYMI: Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reverses Singing River Pension Settlement”

JustUs: Jackson County Chancery Court #SRHS Proceedings Rotten to the core

A bit over eight years ago Slabbed appeared in the local cyber scene as a blog dedicated to covering the wind-water insurance court battles when a nice lady from central Mississippi the world would later know as Nowdy and I met at the Cracker Barrel in Hattiesburg and made common cause to tell the coast’s story from a local point of view. In the time since we witnessed the Scruggs prosecution and it’s use as a hammer against people who had lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina. Nowdy would later describe the phenomenon as “JustUs” and it usually reared it ugly head in the Mississippi judicial system when massive amounts of money were at stake.

Yesterday, thanks to a bombshell legal filing at the Mississippi Supreme Court, JustUs again reared its ugly head here on the coast with news that the major players in the Chancery case Almond v Singing River et al, were holding a meeting in which the Plaintiff’s counsel in Almond were excluded. Less than three hours later an order staying Almond was entered by special Judge Breland Hilburn one day before motions on his recusal from the case were to be heard.

Ms. Almond and around two hundred other Singing River retirees have been deprived of their day in court thus far in favor of a forced settlement that saddled the scandal ridden pension plan with an unqualified trustee whose main qualifications appear to be his political connections.  To add to the Alice in Wonderland like quality we have Jackson County Board of Supervisors pretending they are not a full partner in the Singing River disaster yet the county is paying the legal fees of the politically connected lawyers that helped caused the Singing River disaster.

For the Singing River retirees that are being lined up like sheep before being herded to the financial chop shop, the events of the past month must be absolutely maddening.  Worse yet for morale is the punditry advocating for a settlement that sweeps possible illegal acts under the rug while the largest single group of retirees are cut out from access to the legal process all while a proposed compulsory settlement is allowed to advance before Judge Louis Guirola in US District Court.

But now the clients of local lawyers Earl Denham and Harvey Barton whose state court case has been stonewalled for months at least know the fix is in against them and they have no chance at receiving justice from Judge Hilburn and Special Master Singletary.  And despite Mr. Singletary’s protestations to the contrary, to the public this secret meeting between defense counsel and the Court reeks worse than a dead skunk in the August heat. And it’s not just the public that feels that way. Continue reading “JustUs: Jackson County Chancery Court #SRHS Proceedings Rotten to the core”

Meantime in the SRHS Litigation, all hell is breaking loose on two fronts (Updated)

We have retiree pitted against retiree in the federal court cases before Judge Guirola and in Chancery Court, Singing River has filed Motions for Sanctions against retiree lawyers Earl Denham and Harvey Barton. I’d present more but time is a very short commodity for me this week. RFP was kind enough to link one of the documents that I am referring in comments.

The litigation was bound to get nasty given the acts rumored to have been perpetrated and this does not count rival bands of retiree lawyers fighting among themselves.

Update: Meantime on the Jackson County election front:

SHRS Retiree Flyer

Jackson County Sups now blame retirees for the secrecy surrounding the Singing River pension debacle

They quit responding to questions before we moved to add them so we could get their documents. Before we did add them, we asked for their help many times, just for their documents and to join forces and start immediately re-funding the plan. No use. This reaction would be funny if it were not so sad and so serious. Blaming the victims is despicable. Except for the document request we have not sued them for damages yet, but they seem to be begging for it. ~ Retiree Attorney Earl Denham via Facebook

Attorney Billy Guice: No more reports on SRHS because supervisors named in lawsuit ~ Margaret Baker

Nothing beats bunker mentality for a gaggle of politicians that look more certain to lose their elective offices by the day. This I know, for the retirees primary and general election days can’t come quickly enough.

“It’s on like a pot of neck bones!”

It sure is folks.

Through-out many of the posts Slabbed has done about the Singing River debacle one of the management decisions I questioned most was insisting on sticking with Dogan & Wilkinson despite the documented related party transactions. Background on that can be found here, here and here.

Click the image below to obtain the full 89 page pdf of the filing, which now names the SRHS Law Firm of Dogan and Wilkinson and former SRHS Board Attorney Roy Williams as a co-defendants:

Click the image to obtain 89 page pdf
Click the image to obtain 89 page pdf

Comment bump | SRHS Retirees meet your new State Judge: “One need only briefly peruse the state court record to recognize the manifest dereliction of judicial function”

And best of all new Singing River Hospital Trustee Scott Taylor could likely give us all manner of background since he was there. If I were in your shoes I’d be preparing for the worst because that is very likely what is coming. The following is via Nunn Yabidnez on “What is Singing River Health System and the Jackson County Board of Supervisors Hiding? A comment bump“:

Well, this is going from “interesting” to downright weird. L. Breland Hilburn is now (at least until someone files a motion that gets granted) the special judge over the SRHS mess. For those who don’t know, which is likely most folks, Judge Hilburn was involved in the Scruggs-Wilson-Luckey love triangle. He gave Scruggs and Co. an “interesting” midnight-hour order that attempted to keep the tobacco money out of the reach of Luckey and Wilson, who had attempted an end run by going to federal court in Texas. The Texas court punted the whole thing back to MS fed court, which basically laughed at Hilburn’s order. Why does this matter? Who knows, but new SRHS Trustee Scott Taylor was the guy advising Scruggs that Luckey and Wilson owed Scruggs money, etc., and Hilburn seemed to be awfully sympathetic to Scruggs’ positions. And perhaps even more interesting, after his retirement from the bench, Judge Hilburn has been associated with the Eaves firm in Jackson, a _plaintiff’s_- with-a-capital-P firm (John Arthur Eaves Sr. and Jr., the latter also having all sorts of interesting facets, including a stepson who recently bit the head off of a live mouse, hamster or gerbil). And Pope Mallette and Cal Mayo, of Oxford and Scruggs’ attorneys in the Wilson v. Scruggs litigation, are repping at some of the Plaintiffs in the SRHS mess. Plus, Mike Moore was looking to get into the SRHS mess, too. Sure, MS is a fairly small legal pond, so there will be overlap, but this is getting a bit ridiculous. What remains to be seen is just what these plaintiffs/mass tort guys (and Mayo-Mallette) see as the payday in suing SRHS and the pension plan for being, basically, broke.

A post from the old “folo.us” site (long defunct, and Tom Freeland of FOLO-turned-NorthMSCommentator died earlier this year) talked about Hilburn’s role in Wilson v. Scruggs. I am not saying the content is correct or incorrect, but am simply quoting it in its entirety. The links to the various opinions/orders cited are dead, but if anyone is interested in them, I’m sure they are available elsewhere. Here it is:

“Sic ‘em
March 22nd, 2008

Well dang, boys and girls, NMC’s balky scanner is still holding up my next addition to our Bobby DeLaughter file, but never fear, I’ve got another yarn to share with you, and before it’s over, that name will briefly appear.

Lately I’ve been corresponding with a national reporter who, for both papers and magazines, has covered Dickie Scruggs for some years now. Yesterday as we were speculating about where all this goes next, he told me a story going back to the days before Luckey and Wilson became separate cases. With his permission, I’ll share it (now augmented with some further research of my own), since he rather expects the FBI may — or at least should – be looking into the questions it raises about Dickie Scruggs’s influence over yet another judge . . . Continue reading “Comment bump | SRHS Retirees meet your new State Judge: “One need only briefly peruse the state court record to recognize the manifest dereliction of judicial function””

Comes now into the Court the Glam Queen of New Orleans……

Facebook Photo | SRHS Queen Stephanie Barnes Taylor
Facebook Photo | SRHS Queen Stephanie Barnes Taylor

She’ll put a spell on you……

COMES NOW Stephanie Barnes Taylor (Taylor), by and through the undersigned counsel of record, and files this her Joinder to the request for Disqualification of Trial Judge, Application for Extraordinary Relief and Motion to Stay filed by Singing River Health System, and in support would show unto the Court the following:

  1. Taylor has attempted to stay neutral while other parties engage in procedural volleys in this and other ancillary litigation in state court and parallel litigation in federal court.

  2. Without question, the subject of this and the various related litigation involves substantial sums of money and affects hundreds if not thousands of individuals. The various litigation is subject to intense media scrutiny, strong emotions and unbridled speculation fueled by bloggers and an uninformed public.

My attitude is since the Glam Queen invited us to dance we may want to take her up on it. Meantime here are a couple of links: Continue reading “Comes now into the Court the Glam Queen of New Orleans……”

Comment bumps from Jackson County. The truth is likely very ugly

Slabbed literally has lifers that go back way far back but there are just a handful that were there for the prequel, Nowdy being in that number. As I watch the Singing River Health System disaster unfold I’m reminded of old business because I’m seeing it connect in certain ways to that which is now before us. And at the bottom are the vested participants in the plan.

I think the commenters are making a case that the Jackson County Board of Supervisors is stalling for time to avoid revealing the truth because the truth in this instance is very ugly. Anyone that can read a financial statement can see how bad it is when it is adjusted for the fraudulent financial reporting related to patient receivables. When you adjust the numbers and run rudimentary financial analysis, the tax increase needed to honor the promises made to the vested plan participants would be staggering.

There are other options. I have colleagues that have suggested to me that privatizing the two hospitals under one operator would be the better option, a process Jefferson Parish Louisiana is currently concluding with the larger of its two public hospitals.

Given the history of the SRHS saga the commenting community here at Slabbed are rightfully skeptical.  Here is a sampling:

Legal Community battles are always down and dirty. Commenter R. Scruggs lays down brass tacks and smack on “Thursday SRHS Miscellany: Public hospital to comply with Open Meetings bill passes the Senate, plus a court hearing.

Simple Man understands the truth is likely to be very ugly on “SRHS Retirees Protest through the Mardi Gras Holiday plus Judge Harris is on the case to stay (Updated)” after Observer worked the math.

SRHS Retirees Protest through the Mardi Gras Holiday plus Judge Harris is on the case to stay (Updated)

And that’s not all folks as the retirees also packed the Jackson County Board of Sups meeting. The Sups voted to extend their previous agreement to continue to pension for another 120 days after the current plan extension expires next month.

Reader Submitted Photo | SHRS Retirees Protest outside the SRHS Administrative Office Complex in Gautier (2/17/15)
Reader Submitted Photo | SHRS Retirees Protest outside the SRHS Administrative Office Complex in Gautier (2/17/15)
Reader Submitted Photo | SHRS Retirees Protest outside the SRHS Administrative Office Complex in Gautier (2/17/15)
Reader Submitted Photo | SHRS Retirees Protest outside the SRHS Administrative Office Complex in Gautier (2/17/15)

And then with the recommendation of his special master in hand, Judge Harris announced he will not recuse himself from the pension cases. Given the circumstances I think the Hospital system is entering the house of pain. It will be interesting to see how far Holland and company at Team SRHS will go trying to cover for its former Board and advisors because his Rotary Club talking points blaming everything on KPMG won’t fly far on the witness stand. Stay tuned.

Update:

Thanks to a reader, Slabbed has both the special master’s report along with Chancellor Harris’ order and reasons. Click the pics below the jump to obtain the documents. Continue reading “SRHS Retirees Protest through the Mardi Gras Holiday plus Judge Harris is on the case to stay (Updated)”