While waiting for the next big development in the Scruggs affair and Katrina litigation, now is a good time to do some clean up and deal with some loose ends. After the exhausting last nine days, I’m going to try to keep this post relatively short and get back to my regular posting schedule of basically one post a day, Monday through Friday. Oh yes, and one other thing — I’ll try to get some sleep. We shall see if events allow this or if I’m just dreaming.
Jones v. Scruggs attorney fee dispute
Yesterday I mentioned that the Jones, Funderburg firm has moved for court control of attorney fees of the Scruggs Katrina Group. A few other stories on this you may be interested in: here is a link to an Associated Press story by Holbrook Mohr, and here is a link to a post on the Wall Street Journal Law Blog (thanks to Peter Lattman for the shout out).
Wall Street Journal story on Katrina litigation rulings
Click here to read a story in today’s WSJ (subscription required) by Liam Pleven and Lattman on the changing landscape of Katrina litigation. Because the changing landscape of Katrina litigation has been more or less all I’ve written about here for a year, you know this is one of my favorite subjects in the world, and I can and have gone on at great lengths about this. Today, however, in the interests of brevity, let me just refer you to the story, which does a good job of summarizing where things stand. (Story also has a quote from me).
Well, I guess we both knew I couldn’t really stop there, right? The story is written for a general audience about a general topic, so it doesn’t go into specifics about the legal issues in the Katrina appellate cases. I’ll have more to say about the specifics in the coming weeks. I have spent enormous amounts of time trying to master the core legal issues, and one of the trickiest and most difficult, and therefore the one that is closest to my heart, is the anti-concurrent cause provisions of Katrina policies. As you may or may not be aware, I suffered over and fought with anti-concurrent cause at length this summer and fall as I wrote a piece for Appleman’s Critical Issues on the subject, which you can view by clicking here. This was an extraordinarily difficult subject to present in a readable, entertaining fashion, but I’m pleased with the final product, and I’m working on a sequel for Appleman’s regarding Katrina decisions at the Fifth Circuit level. I was astounded to hear from a reader in Connecticut that the anti-concurrent cause article is assigned as required reading in an LLM course on insurance law at the University of Connecticut. I realize not everyone agrees with my views on anti-concurrent cause, but I approached the topic as a scholar and not as an advocate, so I’m glad others find the article of use.
Reevaluation of Scruggs
This is a theme I will be developing over the coming weeks. For today, let’s ponder a passage from a book and think about it’s possible relevance to recent events.
The name of the book is Assuming the Risk: The Mavericks, the Lawyers and the Whistle-Blowers Who Beat Big Tobacco, written by Michael Orey. Check out this passage from pages 266-67:
Even though Johnson’s stealthy maneuvering proved unnecessary, it indicates the lengths to which Scruggs was willing to go to pave the way for success. And throughout late 1993 and early 1994, he took other steps to defuse possible opposition to the Medicaid suit in political circles, holding discussions with various movers and shakers around the state to ensure they would not make any trouble. Sometimes it took more than a discussion. "There were [some] people who had political connections, that I’m not even at liberty to tell you who they are, that had to be touched, that had to be talked to, that had to be given a stake in [the litigation]," Scruggs says. He retained two or three of these mystery consultants to run political interference. "These guys have lots of friends and connections with the legislature," he explains. "These are people who are lobbyists, but they’re not really registered lobbyists. It’s really sort of the dark side of the force." Over the course of the litigation, Scruggs says, he paid these individuals well over $500,000.
Dark side of the force? Mama always said, when you play with fire you get burned.
LexisNexis Insurance Law Center
This has nothing to do with Scruggs or Katrina litigation, but I’ve been meaning to mention this for some time and now is as good a time as any. I’ve been asked to be on the advisory board for the LexisNexis Insurance Law Center, a new web site that corrals a lot of useful, timely information and insider perspective on insurance law. Click here to visit the site. We have lots of great plans for making the site even better, if you have ideas for what you’d like to see, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me.
Thanks to readers for your e-mails
I get a high number of e-mails, I read each one, do my best to respond to each one. I treat each one as confidential unless you say otherwise. Through no plan of my own, I find myself in a unique position here of being at ground zero, and I take my responsibility seriously to hear all sides and be as fair as I can. Your perspectives are very valuable to me, so please always feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My goal is to learn and understand, and to hold a mirror up to nature. As those who talk to me know, your thoughts do influence me, so if you have a view I should know about, tell me. I especially appreciate the advice from litigators on the scene — I realize you know many things I do not.
Thanks for all the shout outs on the Web
Thank you to all who have linked to me. I see many of these links, but some I don’t see until some time has passed or someone tells me about it. In the crush of work, family and blogging, I don’t always get an opportunity to say thanks personally, but I really appreciate the acknowledgment.
Where in the World is Jim Hood?
AG Jim Hood continues his vow of silence — John O’Brien of Legal Newsline is the latest reporter to get a no comment from Hood on events. Click here to read the story. O’Brien writes:
As one of his special assistant attorneys general pleads guilty to a bribery charge and one of his largest campaign contributors prepares to defend himself against the same, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has become uncharacteristically tight-lipped.