A few preliminaries. A fun trip so far, a few glitches. My luggage didn’t make the connection from Houston to Jackson, it finally caught up with me about midnight in Starkville. Everyone has been great, what a friendly place, wonderful people. A beautiful state. Really impressive program they put together here at Insurance Day.
Here’s the latest on the Scruggs disbarment: according to this update in the Daily Journal, the State Bar is saying that even if Scruggs’ challenge — that the rules require a copy of a conviction to be attached, and there is none because he has not yet been sentenced — even if this is true, he should be suspended pending sentencing. Scruggs is represented by the immediate past general counsel of the State Bar, which has caused many to wonder: hey, hasn’t Scruggs had a pretty good amount of fee disputes and controversy before, and isn’t it likely that someone filed bar complaints against him before? If so, what happened to the investigations of these complaints?
Also, why does Scruggs care? He has no hope of keeping his license as a convicted felon who admitted to conspiracy to bribe a judge, so what is this: an exercise in complaining about how the hangman’s noose is too tight, or something else? Is there some reason Scruggs wants to keep his license an extra few months, such as some payment of fees requiring payment to his law firm? (Non-lawyers can’t claim they have a law firm).
People stop being lawyers for all kinds of reasons, though, and I wouldn’t think that payments that have been earned, such as tobacco money, could be made conditional on remaining a lawyer for life. This can’t be true, because then he could say his agreement to take care of the Rigsby sisters after they got run out for purloining documents to support his litigation would only be effective while he was an attorney riding high, and we all know he wouldn’t just cast these two out with no paycheck . . . well, OK, bad example! Maybe it has something to do with needing to assert continued control over some aspect of some litigation for the moment . Or maybe it just has to do with the kind of thing where people are tarring and feathering you and you point out their grammar is imperfect.
Funny thing about the agreements with the Rigsbys. Like a lot of Scruggs’ fee agreements, they aren’t in writing. But hey, no problem, right? I mean, you don’t need a piece of paper to pin Scruggs down, he’s never been accused of trying to cheat someone on an oral contract! Oops, bad example again.
Speaking of the Rigsbys and Scruggs, you will recall how they all have claimed repeatedly that they never spoke prior to his becoming their attorney in February 2006. Often they don’t remember much else, but on that they are certain. (Note, however, that in the recent Cori Rigsby deposition I posted, she did admit for the first time that she accessed the State Farm records using a list of the plaintiffs in Scruggs’ cases, although she wouldn’t admit to Scruggs’ having given it to her for that purpose — and there is some plausibility to this, as crazy as it sounds — after all, she has a history of taking documents without permission)!
What if, however, the reason the Mississippi Department of Insurance’s market conduct survey of State Farm — you remember that, they’ve been working on it for quite some time, to check out State Farm’s conduct in Katrina adjusting — what if the reason this is taking so long is that there is new evidence to check out about whether the stories hold up about when Scruggs and the Rigsbys first met? And possibly about Hood’s role and when it began?
What if? Remember, Scruggs and the Rigsbys have made a lot of people mad, and people talk, and give up all kinds of information about when meetings took place and where. Remember that Scruggs, according to the Lee Harrell deposition I have linked to so many times, said in December 2005 he had State Farm "insiders" at that time — but under oath, he and the Rigsbys said February 2006. Wouldn’t it be ironic if this market conduct survey creates more problems for Scruggs, the Rigsbys and Jim Hood than it does for State Farm? But isn’t that the way it goes? Once the center no longer holds, everything flies apart at the margins too.