Posts tagged as:

State Farm

Politics roundup

by Walter Olson on May 26, 2014

  • NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver hangs blame for a retrospectively unpopular position on the *other* Sheldon Silver. Credible? [NY Times via @jpodhoretz]
  • Julian Castro, slated as next HUD chief, did well from fee-splitting arrangement with top Texas tort lawyer [Byron York; earlier on Mikal Watts]
  • 10th Circuit: maybe Colorado allows too much plebiscitary democracy to qualify as a state with a “republican form of government” [Garrett Epps on a case one suspects will rest on a "this day and trip only" theory pertaining to tax limitations, as opposed to other referendum topics]
  • “Mostyn, other trial lawyers spending big on Crist’s campaign in Florida” [Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine; background on Crist and Litigation Lobby] “Texas trial lawyers open checkbooks for Braley’s Senate run” [Legal NewsLine; on Braley's IRS intervention, Watchdog]
  • Contributions from plaintiff’s bar, especially Orange County’s Robinson Calcagnie, enable California AG Kamala Harris to crush rivals [Washington Examiner]
  • Trial lawyers suing State Farm for $7 billion aim subpoena at member of Illinois Supreme Court [Madison-St. Clair Record, more, yet more]
  • Plaintiff-friendly California voting rights bill could mulct municipalities [Steven Greenhut]
  • John Edwards: he’s baaaaack… [on the law side; Byron York]
  • Also, I’ve started a blog (representing just myself, no institutional affiliation) on Maryland local matters including policy and politics: Free State Notes.

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Class action roundup

by Walter Olson on December 6, 2013

  • Whichever way high court rules in Hood v. AU Optronics, new Fifth Circuit decision will fuel parens patriae actions by AGs in state courts [Alison Frankel, earlier]
  • Justice Alito blasts federal district judge Harold Baer for insisting on race quotas for class action lawyers [Michael Greve/Liberty Law, Tom Goldstein/SCOTUSBlog]
  • “Unfortunately, even if SCOTUS does away with fraud on the market, plaintiff lawyers will still bring omission cases” [Bainbridge, earlier]
  • Ted Frank’s adventures, as documented at Point of Law [Pampers Dry Max (earlier), L'Oreal salon hair products, Korean Air, Wyeth]
  • Does it cost too much to provide class action defendants with due process? [Andrew Trask] Related on Mark Moller’s work [same] Should class actions be understood as creating trusts? [same]
  • Avery v. State Farm billion-dollar aftermarket-parts class action seeks RICO resuscitation, in Monty Python echo [Chamber-backed Madison County Record]
  • If you didn’t know distinguished proceduralist Arthur Miller as a Milbergian, you might detect it from his writing [Trask]

April 17 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 17, 2013

  • “The Consortium has hired Arnold & Porter, and they can threaten whomever they want, the facts be damned.” [Popehat]
  • Former Social Security administrators: NPR’s just imagining things, pay no attention to that report on the growth of the disability program [NADR.org, earlier] Ronald Reagan got rolled on the SSDI disability program, and we’re all paying the price [Avik Roy]
  • Katrina qui tam: “Jury returns verdict for the Rigsby sisters against State Farm” [Freeland, earlier]
  • Probate dispute had become cause celebre in Connecticut: “Judge Rules In Favor Of Caretaker In Smoron Farm Case” [Hartford Courant]
  • Judge’s text message complains of “‘docket from hell,’ filled with tatted-up… gap tooth skank hoes” [Above the Law]
  • “FTC Clarifies Obligations of Product Reviewers, But Does Not Ease Concerns” [DMLP]
  • “Trump Dismisses ‘Spawn of Orangutan’ Lawsuit” [Lowering the Bar, earlier]
  • If you’re one of those who occasionally send me links from the Alex Jones site InfoWars, now you know why I never use ‘em [Dave Weigel]

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During the long series of scandals that brought down former tort potentate Richard (“Dickie”) Scruggs, of tobacco-asbestos-Katrina-mass tort fame, no blogger achieved the status of “must” reading more consistently than David Rossmiller of Insurance Coverage Blog. Now Alan Lange of Mississippi site YallPolitics (and co-author of Kings of Tort, a book on the scandal) has posted a massive document dump of emails between the Scruggs camp and its public relations agency, as made public in later litigation (see also). It shows the principals:

* boasting of their success in manipulating major media outlets to inflict bad publicity on the targets of Scruggs’s suits;

* plotting ways of striking back against critics — in particular, Rossmiller — with tactics including going after him with legal process, as well as creating fake commenters and whole blogs to sow doubt about his reporting;

* wondering who they might pay to secure “Whistleblower of the Year” awards, or something similar, for their clients;

* apparently oblivious, just days before the fact, as to how the ceiling was going to cave in on them because of Judge Henry Lackey’s willingness to go to law enforcement to report a bribe attempt from the Scruggs camp.

The whole set of documents, along with Rossmiller’s summary and reaction, really must be seen to be believed. It will easily provide hours of eye-opening reading, both for those who followed the Scruggs affair in particular, and for everyone interested in how ambitious lawyers manipulate press coverage to their advantage — and how they can seek to use the law against their blogger critics. (& welcome readers from Forbes.com and Victoria Pynchon’s “On the Docket” column there).

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“Wow. Judge Acker found Scruggs and the Rigsby sisters jointly and severally liable for civil contempt and a fine of $65,000 in the Renfroe v. Rigsby case, relating to failure to promptly return the stolen State Farm claims files to Renfroe’s counsel.” Maybe stealing documents isn’t such a good strategy after all? And that’s aside from what the judge said about Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood — which starts with the epithet quoted in the post title, and just gets more stinging from there. (David Rossmiller, Jun. 5; Anita Lee, “Judge fines Scruggs, Rigsby sisters”, Biloxi Sun-Herald, Jun. 6; order, opinion PDF). More: U.S. Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine (Hood’s response).

If you wonder why insurance fraud and insurance expense are so high in New York state it’s because of opinions like AA Acupuncture Service v. State Farm Mutual Insurance Company. (The fact that the plaintiff is a quack-upuncturist immediately suggests problems, no?) Civil Court Judge Arlene P. Bluth agreed that there was “uncontradicted, overwhelming circumstantial evidence” that an accident had been faked. But State Farm was still not entitled to summary judgment on the litigation of bad-faith claims by three medical providers who insisted that State Farm was liable as the insurer of the woman who claimed to have been injured in the accident. (Plaintiffs deny fraud, though apparently wasn’t able to rebut the evidence of fraud at the motion stage.)

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Some developments of the past ten days or so:

* In major blow to defense, Judge Biggers denies motions to suppress wiretap evidence and evidence of similar bad acts [Rossmiller]

* Balducci says he and Patterson got $500K from Scruggs to influence AG Hood to drop indictment of State Farm, motive being to advance civil settlement [Folo]

* WSJ gets into the act with some highlights of wiretap transcripts [edit page; earlier here]

* Sen. Trent Lott says he’s a witness, not a target, of federal investigation [Anita Lee, Biloxi Sun-Herald]

* Scruggs off the hook on Alabama criminal contempt charge [WSJ law blog, Rossmiller, Folo]

* “Mr. Blake has served for many years as a conduit and a layer of separation, if you will, between Mr. Scruggs and other people on sensitive issues.” (Balducci transcript highlights, Folo; more)

* In effort to get Zack Scruggs indictment dismissed, his lawyers dwell on switch from “y’all” to “you” as implying shift in persons addressed from plural to singular [Folo first, second; Rossmiller first, second; on a "sweet potatoes" point, NMC @ Folo and sequel; also]

* DeLaughter/Peters branch of scandal reaches deep into Jackson legal community [Adam Lynch, Jackson Free Press]

* Article in new American Lawyer notes that Scruggs’s ambitious suits have lately hit a big losing streak, notably those against HMOs, nonprofit hospitals and Lehman Brothers [Susan Beck]. And Lotus catches an interestingly lawyerly wording on John Keker’s part [Folo]

* I’m quoted and this site is discussed in an article on blog coverage of the case; my lack of clarity as an interviewee probably accounts for Scruggs being said to have addressed audiences at the Manhattan Institute “a few” times, when if memory serves the correct reference is “twice”. [Patsy Brumfield, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo) @ Folo]

* For more background see our Scandals page; also YallPolitics.

David Rossmiller—indispensable for matters Scruggsian—has the details of a Judge Michael Mills’s displeasure with Dickie Scruggs’s refusal to submit to a deposition in State Farm’s lawsuit against state attorney general Jim Hood. Scruggs will likely plead the Fifth Amendment for his interactions with the attorney general—which does not reflect well on that attorney general.

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* Pertinacious Scruggs effort to evade deposition by State Farm attorneys results in “testosterone fiesta” of swaggering counsel (Folo; sequel; YallPolitics; Rossmiller); (P.S. Yes, Ted and I independently noticed and posted on this just minutes apart.)

* Remember when Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood declared his political patron Scruggs a “confidential informant”, thus throwing a most useful cloak of protection over him in his battle against contempt charges? It happens that Scruggs was at almost exactly the same moment donating large sums to the Democratic Attorneys General Association which seem to have passed through like a dose of salts to emerge at the other end as donations to Hood (YallPolitics; earlier on DAGA)

* Attorney Ed Peters, tagged with a pivotal role in Langston-DeLaughter branch of scandal, was formerly high-profile local D.A.; his prosecutorial vendetta against an attorney named J. Keith Shelton comes in for scrutiny in a new series by Folo proprietor Lotus [#5 in series; posts tagged Peters; see also YallPolitics]

* Folo co-blogger NMC, looking into Luckey and Wilson fee disputes (earlier here, here, here), is rattled by the prevalence of hearings-without-notice, ex parte judicial contacts, and other Gothic proceduralisms [Folo];

* Implications or non-implications for civil proceedings of Scruggs’s taking the Fifth [White Collar Crime Prof Blog]

* Adam Cohen of the NYT and Scott Horton of Harper’s claim defendants in precursor Minor-Teel-Whitfield scandal were railroaded on vague charges over not-really-illegal stuff; read pp. 6-9 of the indictment and see whether you agree (YallPolitics);

* For Mississippi, it’s already the most far-reaching corruption scandal in a century, aside from the question of how much bigger it might get [Jackson Clarion-Ledger]

Earlier Scruggs coverage on our scandals page.

February 1 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 1, 2008

  • Following public outrage, Spanish businessman drops plans to sue parents of boy he killed in road crash [UK Independent; earlier]
  • Scruggs to take Fifth in State Farm case against Hood [Clarion-Ledger] And how much “home cooking” was the Mississippi titan dished out in the Medicaid-tobacco case that made his fortune? [Folo]
  • More critics assail ABC “Eli Stone” vaccine-autism fiction, with American Academy of Pediatrics calling for episode’s cancellation [AAP press release; Stier, NY Post; earlier]
  • Special ethics counsel recommends disbarment of Edward Fagan, lawyer of Swiss-bank-suit fame whose ethical missteps have been chronicled on this site over the years [Star-Ledger]. As recently as fourteen months ago the L.A. Times was still according Fagan good publicity;
  • In past bail-bond scandals, private bond agencies have been caught colluding “with lawyers, the police, jail officials and even judges to make sure that bail is high and that attractive clients are funneled to them.” [Liptak, NYT]
  • Archbishop of Canterbury calls for new laws to punish “thoughtless or cruel” comments on religion [Times Online, Volokh]
  • Another disturbing case from Massachusetts of a citizen getting charged with privacy violation for recording police activity [also Volokh]
  • Abuse of open-records law? Convicted arsonist files numerous requests for pictures and personal information of public employees who sent him to prison; they charge intimidation [AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer]
  • It resembles a news program on Connecticut public-access cable, but look more closely: it’s law firm marketing [Ambrogi]
  • Judge says Alfred Rava’s suit can proceed charging sex bias over Oakland A’s stadium distribution of Mother’s Day hats [Metropolitan News-Enterprise; earlier on Angels in Anaheim]
  • Crack down on docs with multiple med-mal payouts? Well, there go lots of your neurosurgeons [three years ago on Overlawyered]

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Scruggs indictment IV

by Walter Olson on December 4, 2007

The WSJ law blog’s Peter Lattman is now reporting from Scruggs hometown Oxford, Miss. and (with co-reporter Paolo Prada) is in today’s paper with “It’s Party Time For Dickie Scruggs In Oxford, Miss.” (WSJ, Dec. 4, sub-only). Among its newsy items: “People familiar with the investigation” confirm what was widely surmised, that attorney Timothy Balducci “began cooperating with prosecutors at some point after offering the judge money”. Balducci’s whereabouts are not immediately apparent and a “neighbor said no one had been [at his home] for a more than a week.” How much heat is attorney Balducci getting for his role in the case? The WSJ-on-paper quotes Deborah Patterson, wife of Balducci’s business partner and co-defendant Steven Patterson, as saying of Balducci: “He’s a short midget…and he has some sort of complex.” In the online version of the article this quote is shortened (so to speak) to “He has some sort of complex,” but with no correction or other explanation of whether the midget reference was repertorial error or what, exactly.

As emerges fairly clearly in the piece, the Scruggs camp is encouraging a line of defense that portrays Balducci, who has worked extensively with Scruggs in the past and has represented him in earlier lawsuits charging unfair fee division, as a clueless wannabe who pursued the bribe scheme on his own in hopes of impressing the senior lawyer — “a young man wanting to endear himself to Dickie Scruggs”, as one Scruggs intimate is quoted as saying. Famed novelist and Scruggs buddy John Grisham is quoted in the article (and in a separate WSJ blog interview) as saying that the scheme “doesn’t sound like the Dickie Scruggs that I know,” Mr. Grisham said yesterday. “When you know Dickie, and how successful he has been, you could not believe he would be involved in such a boneheaded bribery scam that is not in the least bit sophisticated.” But this is to assume that the payments starkly presented by the indictment as cash-for-the-judge were not intended to be dressed up in some more sophisticated guise, such as eventually forgiven loans routed through some fellow lawyer’s office, made to a relative of the judge, or both. That was the way things were handled in the Paul Minor cash-for-judges affair, in which Scruggs himself was involved, and one should not assume that no such overlay of sophistication would not have been poured over the Lackey payments.

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Speculation continues to mount that central bribery-scandal figure Timothy Balducci may be cooperating with prosecutors, and perhaps has been doing so for some time; Balducci had not yet been arraigned as of this weekend, and the indictment quotes extensively from conversations he held with other defendants, in addition to those that took place in Judge Lackey’s bugged chambers. (Peter Lattman and Ashby Jones, “In Scruggs Probe, Focus Turns to Another Lawyer”, WSJ, Dec. 1)(sub-only). In the latest of his extensive posts on the case, David Rossmiller adds to the picture: “From the verbatim quotes by Balducci given in the indictment, one logically can surmise that investigators had substantial recorded evidence that would have given them tremendous leverage over Balducci in obtaining his cooperation against the others.” In addition, certain elements in the indictment’s description of Balducci’s actions suggest that by mid-October, presumably flipped by investigators, he had begun taking steps that could be used to document targets’ knowing participation in the conspiracy (in particular, his return to Dickie Scruggs to finance a purported second-round bribe, and his statement in the presence of Zach Scruggs and Sidney Backstrom that “we paid for this ruling”).

Rossmiller also analyzes the underlying Jones v. Scruggs dispute over legal fees, in which the Jones firm, formerly one of the five participants in the Scruggs Katrina Group (SKG), alleges that it was “frozen out” and ejected by the remaining four firms, allotted only token fees after shouldering the substantial work of case briefing. Why would it have been advantageous to the Scruggs firm to have Judge Lackey shunt this dispute into arbitration? One key reason is that proceeding with a court battle, even if successful, might have risked exposing to the public many of the internal workings of SKG and perhaps also of Scruggs’s own firm. (Having read the Jones complaint, I would note that Jones was alleging that Scruggs had made a common practice of squeezing collaborating lawyers out of their fee shares in earlier, unrelated litigation during his career. The evidence put forth to support such an allegation, apart from whether it turned out to support a claim for punitive damages, might result in public airing of all sorts of messy and embarrassing episodes from the past.)

John Jones and Steve Funderberg, the lawyers whose firm sued Scruggs et al in the underlying Jones v. Scruggs suit, have given an interview to the Mississippi press; Jones says he knows Scruggs well and has represented him in court, but that the relationship changed drastically “when the money hit the table”; of go-between Balducci, Funderberg said, “Knowing Tim Balducci as I do, I am utterly flabbergasted that he would ever be a part of something like that or believe he could ever get away with something like that”. (Jon Kalahar, “Former Scruggs Colleague Says Money Changed Him”, WTOK, Nov. 30).

At Y’AllPolitics, Alan Lange traces many of the recurring connections between the dramatis personae and notes that the “whole crowd” was deeply involved in the much-criticized MCI contingency-fee back taxes negotiation, which we posted on at the time at Point of Law. “Attorney General Jim Hood allowed his largest campaign contributor, Joey Langston, to be the plaintiff lawyer and also appointed Tim Balducci as a Special Assistant Attorney General in that case”. Langston, for whom Balducci used to work, is now among lawyers representing Scruggs.

Some noteworthy reactions to the indictments: “This is maybe the worst day of my life,” says longtime Scruggs friend Don Barrett, quoted in an Associated Press piece that also rounds up some of the high points of Scruggs’ career (Michael Kunzelman, “Scruggs’ career in jeopardy”, AP/Hattiesburg American, Dec. 1). “I’m disappointed in him,” Katrina client Lyman Cumbest of Pascagoula, who’s suing State Farm, said of Scruggs. “With all the money he had, he didn’t have to bribe a judge. He’s got more money than he could ever spend.” (“FBI probe in judicial bribe case to continue”, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Nov. 30). Byron Steir at Mass Tort Litigation Blog comments (Nov. 30):

If true, all of these allegations suggest remarkable hubris in at least some of the top plaintiffs’ lawyers. One wonders about the effect of a lifestyle of private jets and multiple wins of multiple millions (or tens of millions) in fees. One also wonders about the effect of high-risk, winner-take-all, contingency fee litigation. Brash and aggressive personalities seem to thrive in such an environment — but they too must keep in mind that lawyers ultimately serve the client (not the other way around) and that no one (especially not the lawyer) is above the law.

And more: “It just boggles the mind,” said Biloxi trial lawyer Jack Denton. “Here is a man who has had an enormous amount of success, who reached a level very few attorneys, if any, have reached. Why would he risk everything over a legal dispute over attorneys’ fees?” David Rossmiller, quoted in the same story, has one possible reply, which is that people may begin reevaluating “how this amazingly successful man got to be so amazingly successful.” (Richard Fausset and Jenny Jarvie, “Katrina lawyer at the eye of a storm”, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 30)(& welcome Tom Kirkendall readers).

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Scruggs indictment, day two

by Walter Olson on November 30, 2007

David Rossmiller at Insurance Coverage Blog (who’s also a co-blogger of mine at Point of Law) continues to be the must-read source on this sensational story and its fast-breaking developments. He’s posted a PDF of Jones v. Scruggs, the lawsuit before Judge Lackey by lawyers who say they were cut out of Katrina fees. He also offers some answers to the question posed by a commenter at Above the Law, who asks, “What kind of cheap-o offers a $40,000 bribe to resolve a dispute over $26.5 million in attorneys fees?!” (To begin with, the ruling sought from Judge Lackey would not have disposed of the fee claim, just sent it to arbitration.) Martin Grace scents a ripe irony in the fee-dispute lawsuit, noting that it charged Scruggs with engaging in the same sorts of tactics toward fellow lawyers that he regularly accused insurers of practicing toward their insureds: “lowballing claims and producing fake documents in support of the claims.”

Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft writes that Judge Lackey “presumably [agreed] to tape his calls with the defendants. I suspect the F.B.I. also got a wiretap on Scruggs’ or his co-defendants’ phones, since there are several calls described in the Indictment that don’t involve Judge Lackey. Getting a wiretap on a law firm’s telephone is unusual — particularly due to the substantial and cumbersome minimization efforts required to ensure that calls of clients and lawyers unrelated to the criminal investigation are not overheard.” At the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, columnist Sid Salter has more on co-defendants Tim Balducci and Steve Patterson. A PDF of the indictment is here.

The internal cohesion of the anti-insurer lawyer consortium known as the Scruggs Katrina Group (SKG) appears at present to be under extreme pressure. Rossmiller reports that “policyholder lawyers in general tell me they are seething over Scruggs” and in particular that at least some lawyers who have been his allies “don’t want their names and their cases tarnished with the Scruggs name”. On Thursday an extraordinary contretemps developed in which SKG co-founder Don Barrett of Lexington, Miss. sent a letter (PDF) to a judge hearing Katrina cases against State Farm, suggesting that SKG was being re-formed without Scruggs and would take over the litigation with he, Barrett, as lead counsel (Lattman, WSJ). Within hours, Scruggs had dispatched a letter of his own (PDF) saying that Barrett was misinformed, that it was up to plaintiff families to decide who they wanted to represent them, and that many would undoubtedly wish to retain Scruggs (second posts at Lattman and Rossmiller). As of Thursday evening, the Scruggs Katrina Group website has prominently posted the Scruggs letter but not the Barrett one; one might speculate that if some sort of split within SKG is imminent, the website operation, at least, may have maintained loyalty to the Scruggs side.

On the statewide political repercussions, see Majority in Mississippi, Sid Salter at the Clarion-Ledger, and Chris Lawrence at Signifying Nothing, who also quotes Salter in a comment thread predicting: “The next sob story will be that Dickie’s indictment is about Bush administration persecution of trial lawyers and a rehash of Paul Minor’s problems.” Take it away, Adam Cohen and Scott Horton!

On political repercussions nationally, it didn’t take long for the Hillary Clinton campaign to cancel the Scruggs-hosted fundraiser that was to have been headlined by husband Bill Clinton next month (Associated Press, WSJ Washington Wire). The North Dakota political blog Say Anything thinks politicos in that state should return the (rather substantial) sums they have received from Scruggs and colleagues, but one may reasonably assume that such calls will be ignored, just as elected officials have been in no hurry to divest themselves of the booty collected from such figures as felon/mega-donor William Lerach.

Where are Scruggs’s admirers and defenders? One can only suppose that somber music is playing in the corridors at the business section of the New York Times, which has run one moistly admiring profile of the Mississippi attorney after another in the past couple of years. As of 3 p.m. Thursday, the Times’s very restrained story on the indictment was in a suitably inconspicuous position on the paper’s online business page — the 15th highest story in the left column, in fact. The story, by serial Scruggs profiler Joseph B. Treaster, quotes the relatively ambiguous line attributed to defendant Timothy Balducci — “All is done, all is handled and all went well.” — but omits the far more smoking-gunnish “We paid for this ruling; let’s be sure it says what we want it to say.” And things are anything but upbeat at Mother Jones, where Stephanie Mencimer concedes that she finds the indictment “pretty damning“.

More links: Paul Kiel, TPM Muckraker (indictment “devastating… it doesn’t look good for Scruggs”); Legal Schnauzer (defender of Paul Minor distinguishes the two cases); WSJ interview with Judge Lackey (sub-only) and editorial (free link), Rossmiller Friday morning post (certain details in indictment suggest that a conspiracy insider, possibly Balducci, may have cooperated with prosecutors)(& welcome Instapundit, Point of Law, TortsProf, Adler @ Volokh, Open Market, Y’allPolitics, Majority in Mississippi, Rossmiller readers).

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“Mississippi on Trial”

by Ted Frank on November 6, 2007

Jim Copland explains what’s at stake in elections today in Mississippi.

And Copland’s piece doesn’t even include the latest news, that incumbent AG Jim Hood has been sued by State Farm, which makes some explosive allegations. A judge has granted (and another judge has extended) a TRO against Hood’s harassment of the insurer.

Update: see also Forest Thigpen’s take.

June 21 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 21, 2007

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In 1981, Curtis Campbell (Campbell) was driving with his wife, Inez Preece Campbell, in Cache County, Utah. He decided to pass six vans traveling ahead of them on a two-lane highway. Todd Ospital was driving a small car approaching from the opposite direction. To avoid a head-on collision with Campbell, who by then was driving on the wrong side of the highway and toward oncoming traffic, Ospital swerved onto the shoulder, lost control of his automobile, and collided with a vehicle driven by Robert G. Slusher. Ospital was killed, and Slusher was rendered permanently disabled. The Campbells escaped unscathed.

Guess quickly: which plaintiff in the resulting twenty years of litigation won the biggest jury verdict?

How many of you say Ospital?

How many of you say Slusher?

You’re both wrong. The plaintiff with the biggest jury verdict was Curtis Campbell, whom a jury awarded an incredible $147.6 million.

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I’ll be speaking at Federalist Society events Wednesday, June 20 in Austin and Thursday night, June 21 in Houston on the issue of contingent fees in class actions. Other speakers include the Charles Stuckey of State Farm, Brian Anderson of O’Melveny & Myers, and (one hopes) a plaintiffs’ attorney to be named later. I hope to see lots of Overlawyered readers there.

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Others have mentioned or anticipated State Farm’s withdrawal from the Mississippi homeowners’ and commercial insurance markets in the wake of the Jim Hood/Dickie Scruggs campaign against them (Krauss; Olson; Wallace; Adams; Rossmiller). But how many tie in Hurricane Katrina, Dickie Scruggs, Jim Hood, Trent Lott, and William Wordsworth? I provide a historical perspective in today’s American.

Dickie Scruggs and Jim Hood have a proposed solution to the State Farm withdrawal: tell them they can’t write auto insurance, either. That will make Mississippians better off!

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