just absolutely a class act – Judge Senter corrects the record (a Rigsby qui tam update)

“It has come to my attention that my Memorandum Opinion Concerning State Farm Fire and Casualty Company’s Motion To Dismiss For Relators’ Violation Of Seal Order, Docket Number 871, contains a factual error stated at the top of page 11 and repeated near the bottom of page 13. The opinion states that the Relators have previously been represented by the Scruggs Katrina Group, and this is not the case. Relators were previously represented by The Scruggs Law Firm, LLC, and not by the Scruggs Katrina Group. By this order, I am amending this Memorandum Opinion to correct this error.”

The Order makes no mention of how this matter came to his attention. My guess is from his exceedingly careful reading of documents he’s reviewing before deciding matters currently before the Court. Not that he wouldn’t otherwise, but Don Barrett’s recently filed Motion for Fees pointing out “defense lawyers have been banking their money for years” from Katrina litigation and piling  on more work for an already overworked court staff in the process.

In that regard, I suspect – actually I hope – Judge Senter will do as he’s done in the past and allow a document to be filed once and referenced in all briefs thereafter. My experience reading briefs in ex rel Rigsby is like reading the first chapter of a newly purchased Agatha Christi and realizing you paid for a new cover and title to a book you’d already read!

My hope and Agatha aside, Judge Senter’s Order clearly documents his intent to ensure everything about ex rel Rigsby v State Farm accurately reflects the facts of the case. The text revised as a result of his correction is below the jump. Continue reading “just absolutely a class act – Judge Senter corrects the record (a Rigsby qui tam update)”

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”

Judge Walker serves the Rigsby sisters to State Farm on silver platter

Judge Walker latest Order in McIntosh v State Farm takes the cake – while serving the Rigsby sisters to State Farm on a silver platter. You have to read it to believe it but it’s still unbelievable.

In motion [945], Defendants [State Farm joined by Renfroe] ask the Court to compel the Rigsbys to each submit to one additional hour of deposition questioning and to compel the Rigsbys to fully respond to questions regarding their unauthorized use of State Farm laptop computers and the documents (including any copies or downloaded documents) which they took from State Farm and provided to the SKG.

Defendants also request that the Court overrule the Rigsbys claims of attorney-client privilege and work product protection with respect to their meetings with SKG members at which third parties (e.g., the Rigsbys’ mother and step- father) were present. Continue reading “Judge Walker serves the Rigsby sisters to State Farm on silver platter”

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”

the intersection of federal $$$$ as the basis for prosecuting on honest services -from SLABBED archives May 18,2008 – Revisiting the Indictment in USA v Scruggs

In the interest of we’re all in this together, I recently re-read the indictment in USA v Scruggs. However, it wasn’t until I re-read the Motion to Dismiss filed by the Defense on counts 2, 3, and 4 and the Government’s response, that I began to understand the implied authority in these counts that gave them added significance.

In that regard, however, there is a piece of the puzzle missing in both the motion and the response – the audit trail “when such state or local government or agency received in any one year period benefits in excess of $10,000 under a federal program”.

Only two audit trails could be followed to reach Judge Lackey – and no evidence of either one was contained in the indictment, the defense motion or the government’s response. Continue reading “the intersection of federal $$$$ as the basis for prosecuting on honest services -from SLABBED archives May 18,2008 – Revisiting the Indictment in USA v Scruggs”

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)”

Adding to the confusion, motions today in Jones v Scruggs

I added motions on Jones – as well as some on related to the seal of the Rigsby sister’s Qui Tam – to Legal.

Both sides have filed motions according to the story posted on the Sun Herald.

Attorneys representing the Jones firm hope to argue Tuesday in Lafayette County Circuit Court in Oxford that Scruggs and the others tried to bribe Lackey and should be sanctioned “by striking the defendants’ pleadings and entering a default judgment,” said Roy Percy, one of the firm’s attorneys. Continue reading “Adding to the confusion, motions today in Jones v Scruggs”