Sometimes the sue-ers become the sue-ees. Here is an Associated Press story that says Dickie Scruggs of Katrina and tobacco fame is being sued by a Jackson, Mississippi firm over alleged failure to fork over the firm’s fair share of the $26 million in fees Scruggs received from a recent settlement with State Farm of 640 policyholders lawsuits.
According to the story, the firm of Jones, Funderburg, Sessums, Peterson & Lee believes Scruggs and others have conspired to "freeze out" the firm from getting a just portion of the spoils for its "substantial" work on Katrina cases, including lawsuits other than the State Farm cases that settled. The firm says it is owed 20 percent of the attorney fees Scruggs has collected on Katrina cases so far and 20 percent of fees he will collect in the future. Instead of 20 percent, Scruggs apparently made them an offer they could refuse: "a ridiculously low figure." In a neat twist on the Katrina cases, the lawsuit also seeks punitive damages. Hmmmmm, I wonder what the allocation of the burden of proof should be in this case. If Scruggs fails to tender all amounts that it turns out the Jones firm is owed, should he then be hit with punitive damages and chastised for leaving this issue to the jury instead of owning up to his responsibilities?