11th Circuit agrees Scruggs contempt charges should be vacated

A federal appeals court has vacated contempt sanctions against a Mississippi lawyer accused of violating a judge’s order demanding the return of documents involving Hurricane Katrina insurance claims.

An 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel agreed Tuesday with attorney Richard Scruggs that he was not under jurisdiction of U.S. District Judge William Acker of Birmingham, Ala., and therefore was not bound by Acker’s injunction.

Acker cited Scruggs and two whistleblowers for contempt and ordered them to pay $65,000 in attorney fees to an Alabama company that worked for State Farm Insurance Co. and sued in Birmingham after its records were taken.

Scruggs, who was not involved in the lawsuit, had turned the documents over to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.