Former employee files suit against Nutt & McAlister, member of Scruggs(less) Katrina Group

Maria Brown, a former employee of Nutt & McAlister, a law firm that was and is a key player in Katrina litigation as part of the Scruggs Katrina Group, has sued the firm for employment discrimination, breach of contract and other claims.  Click here to read a copy of the lawsuit, and click here to read the exhibits to the complaint.  Let’s remember these are just allegations and are only one side of the story — here’s what the lawsuit alleges:

  • The firm knowingly kept electronic records of State Farm claims documents that had been ordered returned by Judge William Acker in a December 2006 preliminary injunction.  You may recall that Dickie Scruggs’ failure to promptly return his copies of the same documents resulted in his ongoing prosecution for alleged criminal contempt of court in Alabama.  When Brown complained about the keeping of the records, she was told it was OK because the documents were in the public domain.
  • "The overall environment was saturated with sex which consisted of sexual innuendoes, sexual acts, on-line masturbation, payments for sexual favors performed in the broom closet, sexual overtures and adultery."
  • The firm promised to pay off the $85,000 she owed on her home as a bonus for working hard, but than paid her only $5,000 from Katrina proceeds.
  • Brown was sexually harassed, including by being presented a picture of the genitalia of a male member of the firm.  This person then asked her for a picture of her genitalia.  She declined. She informed management of the harassment but they did nothing about it.
  • She was terminated for complaining about the sexual harassment and the "illegal activity . . . with regard to Judge Acker’s Preliminary Injunction." 

The really intriguing allegation is that Nutt & McAlister failed to comply with Acker’s order. Because the order required the Rigsby sisters and their agents to return all copies of documents they had taken from State Farms claims contractor E.A. Renfore, the question is whether Nutt & McAlister was an agent and what obligation the firm was under to comply with the injunction.  Prosecutors say that Scruggs, as their attorney, was their agent.  But even if the SKG rather than Scruggs himself paid the $150,000 per year consulting salaries of the Rigsby sisters, that makes them agents of the SKG, not vice versa.  

The implication of the complaint is that the firm sent back paper copies but kept electronic copies, which, if true, would belie an assertion that the firm believed they were not subject to Acker’s order. Indeed, the complaint alleges that the justification for not deleting the electronic records was that they were in the public domain.  Some of the documents might, in fact, have previously been used in litigation or given to the media, but that is not the same thing as saying this exempts them from Acker’s order.  We do not know, from the allegations of the complaint, whether these electronic records purportedly were of all the 5,000 to 15,000 documents taken by the Rigsby sisters, or only some.   

Again, it’s only one side of the story. 

13 Comments

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13 Responses to Former employee files suit against Nutt & McAlister, member of Scruggs(less) Katrina Group

  1. Sudden Sam

    I’ve read the comments you publsished regarding Maria Brown and her lawsuit. As a loyal follwers of the Scrugg Nations, I can only say, Bravo! Best regards. Keep up the good work.

  2. Justus

    OUCH . . . that’s gotta hurt! Judge Acker shouldn’t be too happy about the disrespect of his order by two of the SKG partners (Scruggs and Nutt-McAlister), if it’s true. He’ll probably have someone else in his sights along with Scruggs now.
    State Farm and Renfroe might not like it very much either, and might pursue a “civil remedy” against Scruggs and Nutt-McAlister – maybe “disgorgement of legal fees” or something like that. By the way, someone remind me, if one partner of a joint venture commits an act against a third party in the course of the joint venture’s business, wouldn’t that make “all of the partners” of the joint venture legally liable anyway?

  3. duckhead

    If this is relevent, I would like to point out that the attorney for the plantiff, Louis H. Watson Jr., is quickly establishing a reputation as an attorney (brilliant in my opinion) who is genuinely concerned for the rights of injured employees. His background as a labor law specialist began at the Butler Snow Law firm defending employers in cases such as this. He left the firm several years ago and became an employee advocate. If you have followed any of his cases, you will find that he rarely loses and does not have a history of taking on questionable clients. This of course has little to do with the Acker contempt charge.
    Ernie Coward is also a CPA unless he lost his license.
    DH

  4. Silas

    Ya know, I went back and read the injunction Judge Acker granted. I’m not an attorney but the following:
    “… and defendents Cori Rigsby Moran and Kerri Rigsby, and their agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and other persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of this order by personal service or otherwise, are hereby MANDITORILY ENJOINED to deliver forthwith to counsel for plaintiff all documents, whether original or copies, of each document and tangible thing, in any form or medium…”
    sounds to me that IF this suit is legitimate and the Nutt lawfirm actually HAS documents, (hard drive or otherwise,) then his honor Judge Acker has another criminal indictment to file.

  5. Ironic

    For those scoring at home:
    1.Maria Brown blew the whistle and sued Nutt & McAlister of SKG, alleging sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and mentions N&Ms failure to turn over records to Judge Acker.
    2.Scruggs and Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson & Groney have filed suit against State Farm, Nationwide, Allstate, USAA, and several engineering firms for overbilling the federal government for Hurricane Katrina damage.
    3.Jones, Funderburg have sued Dickie Scruggs, Don Barrett, Scruggs law firm, Barrett law office, Nutt & McAlister, and Lovelace law firm over payment of disputed funds. Jones and Funderburg have asked to court to take control of SKG assets.
    4.United States of America v. Dickie Scruggs, Zach Scruggs, Sidney Backstrom, Tim Balducci, and Steve Patterson for attempting to bribe Judge Henry Lackey.
    5.Balducci blew the whistle against Scruggs & Co, and pleads guilty to bribing Judge Lackey.
    6.Jim Hood, AG, sued State Farm for breach of the settlement agreement.
    7.State Farm sued Jim Hood, AG for breach of the settlement agreement.
    8.State Farm sued to disqualify Dickie Scruggs from Katrina cases.
    9.E.A. Renfroe & Co sues whistleblowers Cori and Kerri Rigsby for violating the Alabama Trade Secrets Act and breaching confidentiality agreements.
    10.Judge Acker appoints special prosecutors to prosecute Dickie Scruggs with criminal contempt related to the E.A. Renfroe suit against the Rigsby sisters.
    And, these are just the suits of the players suing each other. There are many more claimant lawsuits moving through the courts. New suits will surely follow, as the pace seems to be picking up.
    Seems to be a new whistleblower every few weeks.
    How ironic, huh?

  6. jim

    Is there any doubt that the legal profession is self perpetuating.

  7. Anon

    Just what we need, another blog trashing lawyers.

  8. Anon, just put down the crack pipe and walk away.

  9. some lawyer

    Anon, this isn’t a blog trashing lawyers, just a blog trashing Dickie Scruggs and other lawyers who sue insurance companies. BIG difference.

  10. David Rossmiller

    Some lawyer: that line never fails to strike me as hilarious. Go on PACER or Courtlink and see what cases I have active in court now, you will see I represent policyholders myself. You might also notice there are many policyholder lawyers in Mississippi and elsewhere that I do not “trash,” including many in the SKG itself.

  11. some lawyer

    Gee, Dave, I’m really chastened. I guess I was tricked by your blogging for the Chamber of Commerce at pointoflaw.com and your endless gloating over the fall of Scruggs here into thinking you’re some kind of corporate stooge. I stand corrected.
    Seriously, you don’t fool me. Gloat all you want over Scruggs’s downfall, it’s no skin off my nose. But remember, it takes a really low sort of person to wish a prison sentence on anybody else. Okay, back to the endless masturbation on this blog over the prospect of Scruggs going to jail.

  12. David Rossmiller

    Some lawyer, that reminds me, I haven’t been blogging enough at Point of Law, I’ll have to post there more often, thanks!

  13. Also a lawyer

    Hey, if these guys are guilty, then I DO wish very LONG prison sentences on them all. The Rambo tactics are finally catching up with these guys and I say GOOD riddance! The profession will be better off.