State Farm paid witness really well – much more than the "substantial sum" disqualifying SKG/KLG member firms (a Rigsby qui tam update)

“I agree whole heartedly with the SF hypocrisy on display. However, I am not aware of any rule that prohibits a witness from being both a “fact” and “expert” witness.” NRB, Comment

Since NRB appears to be an attorney and, clearly, I am not, it was State Farm’s “hypocrisy” on my mind when I wrote State Farm “dickin” around in Kentucky (part 2) –  “hypocrisy” evident in State Farm paying the “substantial sum” State Farm was paying adjusters to appear as material witnesses.

Sop, as the resident CPA of SLABBED, may correct my math but, with 260 workdays in a year, the $750 per day fee State Farm paid claims adjuster Lorrie Beno to give her deposition in a Louisiana Katrina case calculates to “substantial sum” of $195,000 per year for this material witness – “substantially” more than the $150,000 consulting fee (approximately $577 per day)  Dick Scruggs paid the Rigsby sisters.  Not only were the Rigsby sisters paid less than the lesser-qualified Beno, their consulting arrangement resulted in the disqualification of the member and associated firms of the Katrina Litigation Group, the successor to SKG:

I have determined that disqualification is required because Scruggs, acting in furtherance of the SKG joint venture, paid the Rigsby sisters a substantial sum of money (a consulting fee of $150,000 per year) despite Scruggs’s knowledge that the Rigsby sisters were material witnesses in connection with many hurricane damage claims that were likely to become the subject of litigation…the payments to the Rigsby sisters are, in and of themselves, sufficient to warrant disqualification. Judge Senter’s April 4, 2008 Memorandum Opinion on Motion to Disqualify Members of the Katrina Litigation Group and Associated Council

Before we move to the documentation of State Farm’s compensation agreement with Beno, consider this text from a document on the McIntosh case saved in my research notes:

…payment for these activities…[attending depositions, preparing for depositions, reviewing documents and the like]…is not contrary to the case law and ethical rules, Continue reading “State Farm paid witness really well – much more than the "substantial sum" disqualifying SKG/KLG member firms (a Rigsby qui tam update)”

The Scarlet K

…while the stated intent of a “scarlet letter” would be to protect the public, in actual use it has been used as a method to increase the severity of a punishment.

Who wears the Scarlet K of Katrina? According to a Daily Journal story now making the rounds – Two years after indictments, state’s legal community tries to fix Scruggs case damage –  it is the debarred and the Bar:

a stain on the profession…a scar on the Mississippi Bar…a devastating blow

A far more devastating blow, however, is the Bar’s betrayal of the spirit, if not the letter, of the Rules of Professional Conduct that provide a framework for the ethical practice of law – a betrayal that wrongly hung a scarlet K on some and wrongly ignored the conduct of others. Continue reading “The Scarlet K”

State Farm grabs the torch back and burns Provost-Umphrey

You give credit where credit is due and the hands-down winner of the Most Believable Motion by State Farm Attorney contest is H. Scott Spraggings of the Oxford firm Hickman, Goza, and Spraggins for his Motion to Disqualify Provost-Umphrey.

He probably won’t accept the grand prize – a picture of the Qui Tam attorneys with the message “Thank you, Scott” inscribed and signed by Tony Dewitt.

Spraggins built his mansion of a motion without reference to the sand of the two assumptions Judge Senter accepted as fact in deciding to disqualify the Qui Tam attorneys – and, in doing so, provides compelling evidence of the lack of due process in the premises underlying Senter’s decision to disqualify the two Missouri firms. Continue reading “State Farm grabs the torch back and burns Provost-Umphrey”

Lumpkin & Reeves disqualified by Order issued today

Judge Senter issued an Order ruling Lumpkin & Reeves are disqualified as counsel for McIntosh in McIntosh v State Farm.

The first opportunity this Court had to address the scope of its Memorandum Opinion [1172] and Order [1173] entered in this cause of action is in its order [1183] dated April 16, 2008, which includes the following excerpt:

The Order [1173] entered in the instant case refers to and includes “other attorneys associated as counsel for the plaintiffs by these firms” and “any other associated counsel.” The Court intentionally used broad language because it was unclear to what extent other lawyers were involved in this and other litigation who might argue, for example, that they had never entered a formal appearance on behalf of plaintiffs and, thus, are eligible to represent one or more of them. Whether appearing or not, actual participation in or connections to this or other litigation are major concerns for the Court.

Clearly, Judge Senter intends to call the shots. Continue reading “Lumpkin & Reeves disqualified by Order issued today”

Fisher to reel in Shows v State Farm

A Notice of Appearance and Designation of Lead Counsel was filed in Shows v State Farm today.

Plaintiffs – Glenda Shows and 13 other former clients of the disqualified Katrina Litigation Group – have retained the Beaumont-based firm of Provost-Umphrey and designated Guy Fisher as Lead Counsel.

h/t bellesouth

News of settling and unsettling news – such is the life of the slabbed

This week’s Katrina news came in snapshots that slowly revealed a rather disturbing picture. Let’s take a look starting with the motion filed by Lumpkin & Reeves to clarify the firm’s eligibility in McIntosh v State Farm.

While I was trying to decide where to post the motion, State Farm filed a response – their opposition was not surprising but I was far from the only one shocked by their undocumented reference to supporting blog comments.

Given the first hit for this search, I felt cited-sub-silentio by this sentence: “As several commentors have observed, the KLG’s highly unethical acts have exposed its constituent law firms to potential lawsuits for legal malpractices by their clients.” Do you think they had any particular commentor in mind?

What really blew me away, however, was this documented reference to State Farm’s unethical conduct contained in the Lumpkin-Reeves reply. Continue reading “News of settling and unsettling news – such is the life of the slabbed”

Forbes blows the whistle on State Farm

The sequel to the Siege of State Farm is out – State Farm turns the tables on Hurricane Katrina Lawyers. Since Roger Parloff acknowleges his strategy one can assume the same applies when State Farm “turns the tables”.

Last week I published a feature story online, “The Siege of State Farm” attempting to encapsulate the extraordinary, multifaceted assault upon State Farm and the insurance industry that was mounted by plaintiffs lawyer Richard F. “Dickie” Scruggs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The “extraordinary, multifaceted, assault” of State Farm on the Hurricane Katrina lawyers, according to Parloff’s article, was launched in Judge Senter’s courtroom. Continue reading “Forbes blows the whistle on State Farm”

Round 1 goes to Jones – Judge’s ruling sets up Round 2 (updated)

The Daily Journal reports Judge Coleman applied sanctions to SKG – striking their Motion for Arbitration and Answer to the Complaint filed by Jones. Only two of the four other firms – Scruggs and Barrett – were named in the Complaint; however, an earlier ruling from Judge Coleman held all member firms accountable including Nutt -McAllister and Lovelace.

Now for the big news in Coleman’s ruling today –

Coleman said Wednesday that while he agrees to a default judgment in the matter, which means he agrees with the Jones allegations, he does not accept every point in the legal complaint as true. Continue reading “Round 1 goes to Jones – Judge’s ruling sets up Round 2 (updated)”