Katrina litigation update/Trailer Lawyer update, May 13

These filings include a brief calling State Farm’s attempt to disqualify the Trailer Lawyers the last desperate act of a desperate company (actually, it sounds more like the first act of the Katrina Follies, the musical I am writing: “If this trailer’s rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’, Trailer Lawyers are busy inside, tappin’ on the keyboard with the Rigsby Sisters, surfin’ through the claims files till their fingers blister”). These filings also included another brief that avoided the use of the word “trailer” like it was a gift basket of pit vipers (“Sir? Special delivery from Snake Farm. Sign please”). See this prior post for more information.

State Farm’s rebuttal brief contains these paragraphs, which seems a good excerpt to kind of sum up their position (boring legal citations omitted, and some explanatory information inserted):

The Rigsbys’ [Trailer Lawyers’] response and opposition briefs confirm even more clearly why all of their counsel must be disqualified. Counsel admit that they knew of the payments to the Rigsbys soon after they began, “either in late Summer or early Fall of 2006” and knew that any payment to the Rigsbys was improper on multiple levels and violated the ethical rules. Yet, for the next year and a half Counsel made no effort to stop these payments or to disassociate themselves from Richard F. Scruggs (“Scruggs”), his law firm, or the Rigsbys. As in McIntosh v. State Farm [the case where the KLG was first disqualified by Judge Senter], Counsel’s “failure to take timely and reasonable remedial steps or to object to this arrangement amounts to a ratification of Scruggs’s actions” and warrants disqualification.

. . .

In McIntosh, this Court disqualified the remaining SKG lawyers because they were in a joint venture with Scruggs and knew or should have known about his unethical conduct, but did
nothing to stop it. In this case, all Counsel were similarly in a joint venture with Scruggs, admittedly knew of his unethical conduct, and did nothing to stop it.

Further, Counsel’s ties to the SKG are much more significant than they disclose. Chip
Robertson has in fact not only entered an appearance and served as co-counsel with Scruggs and the SKG in the appeal of Tuepker v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., he actually argued the appeal before the Fifth Circuit. Similarly, BFRG [Robertson’s firm] served as co-counsel with Scruggs and the SKG on behalf of the McIntoshes in In re State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. This representation is especially significant, as it pertained to State Farm’s Petition for a Writ of Mandamus from this Court’s denial of State Farm’s first disqualification motion. BFRG also served as co-counsel in Cori Rigsby & Kerri Rigsby v. Gene Renfroe & Jana Renfroe.

Insurance Coverage Blog
5/13/8