A month from prison, Scruggs still bickering over attorneys fees

Undeterred by the results of his previous efforts, famed plaintiffs lawyer and soon-to-be federal prisoner Richard “Dickie” Scruggs has again sued another law firm over a fees dispute.

It’s at least the fourth time Scruggs has been involved in such litigation, and the outcomes have not been pretty for the Mississippi attorney who took on the tobacco industry in the 1990s.

-A dispute over Hurricane Katrina fees landed Scruggs five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to trying to bribe the presiding judge;

-A dispute over asbestos litigation fees cost Scruggs $17.5 million; and

-Another dispute over asbestos fees is currently the subject of a federal investigation.

After Scruggs’ November indictment for conspiring to bribe a state judge, his firm withdrew from the SKG. The remaining members — Nutt & McAlister of Ridgeland, Miss., Barrett Law Offices of Lexington, Miss., and Lovelace Law Firm of Destin, Fla. – renamed themselves the “Katrina Litigation Group” but were later disqualified from all Katrina cases because of Scruggs’ decision to pay the Rigsbys $150,000 salaries to be “consultants” for the group.

“Zuckerman continued to provide legal services to the Rigsbys and submitted additional invoices for its legal services after Scruggs Law Firm’s dissociation from SKG,” the suit says.

“Scruggs Law Firm received some of those invoices and promptly forwarded them to the Katrina Litigation Group.”

Zuckerman’s last invoice says it is owed more than $1.7 million.

“Subsequently, Zuckerman began demanding payment directly from Scruggs Law Firm and/or Scruggs, personally and individually, for all or part of the amounts allegedly owed,” the suit says.

Scruggs says his firm has no contract with Zuckerman – only the SKG does. He also claims Zuckerman’s rates are exorbitant.

“Zuckerman reflects hourly rates as much as four times the customary fees for the legal work it allegedly performed,” the suit says.

One line of the complaint, authored by attorneys J. Cal Mayo and Pope Mallette, reads, “Scruggs is not and has never been a member in SKG.”

Legal News Line