With pleasure I eat ↑ (some of) my my words about Judge Keith Starrett who followed the law despite the fact his resulting Order dismissed the RICO case against Dick Scruggs and SMBD; i.e., Young v Scruggs:
Defendant Richard F. Scruggs was a highly successful trial lawyer who gained international fame from settlements with large tobacco companies. The plaintiffs, who are both attorneys, worked for Scruggs, Millette, Bozeman and Dent, P.A, (“SMBD”) a law firm and predecessor to defendant SMBD. The plaintiffs assert that they dedicated a large part of their legal career to assisting the defendants in obtaining the tobacco settlements.
On July 1, 1999, the plaintiffs entered into written agreements with the defendants which provided for the plaintiffs’ services in the tobacco litigation. The plaintiffs were employees of and not shareholders in the firm. As part of their compensation for services rendered in certain tobacco litigation, SMBD agreed to pay each plaintiff five percent of the net attorney fees the firm received from the tobacco litigation. Their agreement calculated “net fees” after certain deductions from gross proceeds, including fees due to other associated attorneys and “any other obligations by [the] firm in connection with tobacco litigation other than obligations to firm shareholders.” SMBD paid the plaintiffs through regular quarterly payments.
During and after the tobacco litigation, the defendants were involved in attorney fee disputes with Alwyn Luckey and William Roberts Wilson, both of whom claimed damages from fees earned in earlier asbestos litigation through association with the defendants. Luckey and Wilson also both sought a portion of the defendants’ tobacco attorney fees under a constructive trust theory, i.e., they should recover a portion of the defendants’ tobacco attorney fees because (they claimed) Scruggs and SMBD used asbestos fees due them to finance the tobacco litigation…
This court has previously addressed a similar issue in a RICO claim brought by Wilson and Luckey against the defendants and others for recovery of asbestos and tobacco attorney fees. In that case, Wilson and Luckey alleged that defendant Scruggs had committed predicate acts in furtherance of a scheme to deprive them of attorney fees. Wilson v. Scruggs, No. 3:02cv25TSL, slip op. at 16 (S.D. Miss. Sept. 29, 2003). In granting the defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, Judge Lee found that the alleged predicate acts did not meet the “continuity” requirement because they were all alleged to be “pursuant to a single effort to effectuate a single wrong against no one other than” Wilson and Luckey...
The plaintiffs’ allegations of racketeering activity are composed of nearly identical claims Continue reading “Breaking News! Judge dismisses RICO suit against Dick Scruggs and SMBD”
“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 “Wilson v Scruggs and the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows”
The “drafts file” is overflowing (again) and time is short (again) – nothing to do but pull a handful of things I think worth a mention and go for what Sop has called a “round-up” post.
First up is an update on Young v Scruggs – brief because the case is stuck on proper service of the summons issued to Dick Scruggs, a discussion I passed on recenty when reporting Defendant’s Rebuttal. What’s happened since the, however, is more interesting. First, the defendants fied a Motion to Strike Purported Summons that basically restated the argument Scruggs was not lawfully served and there was a pending motion to dismiss on that basis. Next, plaintiffs pop up and file Notice the summons has been reissued – and on that same day, according to the docket, defendants filed anAmended Motion to Strike that cites and attaches a recent Mississippi Supreme Court ruling on the subject that’s worth a look.
The latest news on USA v Minor (Whitfield and Teel) makes for interesting reading – so did the recently filed Motion for Rehearing that was sitting in drafts when most media had the story up. Here’s the Motion and here’s the latest:
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 28(j), Paul Minor notifies the Court of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC, No. 08-205 (Jan. 21, 2010). That decision clarifies that the jury instructions in this case, which allowed the jury to convict the defendants of honest services fraud for campaign contributions made with only an intent to influence and without any quid pro quo, violate the First Amendment. h/t Legal Schnauzer (entire letter posted there)
Now, news on the “odds” – the first “odd” appears to be Gerald Nielsen or, more accurately, Mr. Nielsen appears to be odd – long on ego but short on memory. Continue reading “Scruggs, Minor, and some legal odds and ends (pun intended) – Nielsen, Wilson, Robie and Tort Reform”
They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap
Even with the pleadings reported in The Barriester’s Dream – Plaintiffs’ Oppose Scruggs’ Motion to Dismiss, Scruggs refused the role of Snark in this latest filing in Young v Scruggs, Defendants’ Rebuttal Brief in Support of their Motion to Dismiss:
Plaintiffs’ RICO claims do not fail because of a technical misstep; they fail because the series of events alleged in the Complaint and the RICO Statement do not rise to the level of a RICO violation which entitles Plaintiffs to that statute’s special remedies.
The brief states, There is no magic language Plaintiffs can add to their pleadings to create a RICO cause of action. Believe me, there is also no magic language to make a discussion of law related to serving Richard Scruggs with process interesting reading. The rest, however, is interesting reading and an apt reminder that RICO is not something you just toss out to get your case in federal court.
Defendants Scruggs et al make three clear arguments for dismissing Plaintiffs’ RICO claims: Continue reading “Scruggs defendants file Rebuttal in support of 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 “Scruggs files a nothing here, move on Motion to Dismiss Young v Scruggs”
…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 “Is there a doctor in the court? Patterson”
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 “Eastland stands behind Motion to Dismiss – Greer files cross-claim for Patterson in Wilson v Scruggs”
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 “Breaking News – Wilson v Scruggs settles!”
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 “Patsy Brumfield scratches the surface in Too many connections for lawsuit against Scruggs et al…”
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 “Wilson v Scruggs assigned to Texas Judge David Hittner”