Scruggs Nation, Day 14: waiting for the other shoe(s) to drop

Remember P.L. Blake, the figure Dickie Scruggs apparently spoke about in the book Assuming the Risk, by Michael Orey, when he referred to “the dark side of the force” aiding Scruggs in litigation? (We do not know this for sure, because curiously Blake’s name does not appear in the book). Do you remember a couple days ago we saw in the Scruggs deposition in the Luckey case — a deposition defended by admitted attempted briber Tim Balducci — that Scruggs agreed to pay Blake the emperor-size sum of $50 million? Click here to see the trial transcript that discusses payments to Blake (start at page 43 of the pdf and read to the end, Blake is mentioned on page 46 of the pdf, page 510 of the transcript).

Blake was involved in controversy in the early 1980s over his PLB grain company. Below is a paragraph from a decision of the Mississippi Supreme Court, Blake v. Gannett, 529 So.2d 595 (1988) that explains:

PLB Grain owned one of the largest, if not the largest, grain storage facilities in the United States. It had contracted with the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to store 21.5 million bushels of grain. In order to receive the contract, PLB had indicated to the CCC that it had a net worth of at least $5 million. The surplus grain stored for the government by PLB under the CCC contract became a national story on October 18, 1983. The controversy involved the quantity and quality of the grain stored by PLB Grain. Texas officials charged that the quality of the grain had deteriorated substantially. USDA officials claimed that it had not deteriorated. Later, in 1984, CCC determined that there were quality and quantity problems with the grain stored in PLB’s elevators. State FmHA officials knew that Blake had an interest in a Texas grain storage facility, but did not know the exact nature of that interest. Information concerning PLB Grain was never included in FmHA loan applications.
Click here to see a copy of Blake v. Gannett and read for yourself. The paragraph quoted is at 529 So.2d 599 — for those not familiar with how to read case law, look for the purple numbers embedded in the text, they show you the page of the case reporter. When you read this case, look just below the headnotes for the names of the attorneys — you will note that Blake’s attorney was Fred D. Thompson, of Thompson & Bussart, Nashville, Tenn., of Senate Watergate counsel, movies and TV and presidential candidate fame. The case involved allegations that the Clarion-Ledger, owned by the Gannett corporation, had libeled Blake in investigative stories. The newspaper was exonerated.

David Rossmiller
Insurance Coverage Blog