As the Rigsby Gals’ Qui Tam lawsuit continues to percolate along, there was an interesting post that we put up last week. During the discovery process, one of the things that State Farm requested was any evidence of communication between Scruggs’s inner sanctum and their PR firm, the Rendon Group. The result of that subpoena has caused all hell to break loose. SLF, Inc., the successor to the Scruggs Law Firm, P.A., filed to quash the subpoena in the alias proceeding.
Much like when Dickie Scruggs filed an alias proceeding during his criminal matters to avoid a subpoena in State Farm vs. Hood, the Rendon Group has filed an action in federal court in DC to quash the subpoena. In so doing, they, along with Zach Scruggs and Brook Dooley (John Keker’s cohort) are now claiming that their communications with Rendon Group should be granted legal privilege as attorney work product (of sorts). Zach Scruggs, now disbarred, said, “The materials sought by State Farm from Rendon include communications . . . . regarding the appropriate manner in which to respond to media inquiries, press reports and ‘blog’ postings on the Internet.”
On Monday, the Rendon Group filed a “privilege log” in their alias proceeding, which contained the email senders, recipients, dates/times and subject lines for literally hundreds of emails dating back to 2006. For those who have followed the Scruggs Scandal, just the subject lines literally read like a storybook (kinda like Kings of Tort – on sale now!). Names across the Mississippi legal and political spectrum are copied. Their team was absolutely obsessed with press coverage. From the Wall Street Journal to the LA Times to the Blogs (YallPolitics, Rossmiller, FOLO, Magnolia Report and others), a huge part of the Scruggs giant-killing strategy was to control the press narrative.
As was discussed at length in Kings of Tort, Scruggs pulled four major levers . . . criminal, civil, PR and political. Ideally, they would all focus on one target, in this case State Farm, and the target only wanted to make it stop. The identical thing happened with tobacco. It was extremely deliberate and coordinated. This entire alias action gives a fascinating glimpse into the civil, PR and political part of that strategy.
With titillating subject lines like
– “Draft of what you say on blog”
– “We’re on wikipedia”
– “Mike moore”
– “Draft Response to another WSJ attack”
– “Draft for Lipstick on a Pig cartoon”
– “Biden” (as in VP Joe, I assume)
– “Sf bashing”
There is a trainload of information that I have yet to be able to go through or make sense of.
The upshot of all of this is that State Farm has continually claimed that the Scruggs team leaked sealed court records via the press. There is certainly some reason to believe that may have happened based on past performance. Everyone has PR folks, and there’s certainly no crime in that, but the value that the Scruggs folks place on old media and new media PR for the success of their cases was almost perverse.
For those who followed the Scruggs saga, this will definitely be a jog down memory lane and an awful lot of data to make sense of. Have at it YP Nation!