Federal judge scolds State Farm

Judge L.T. Senter Jr. sternly reiterated his order that State Farm and policyholders’ attorneys stop their “internecine and acrimonious warfare” and focus on resolving their cases.

Senter said State Farm has misconstrued his opinion in another case and is wrongfully withholding pre-trial discovery, or company information requested by Lumpkin and Reeves to prepare the Balius’ case.

The judge had previously disqualified law firms formerly associated with attorney Dickie Scruggs on Scruggs’ cases against State Farm because he unethically paid two potential witnesses. Senter’s disqualification order applied to Lumpkin & Reeves, which can’t take on former Scruggs cases.

A law firm representing State Farm – Webb, Sanders & Williams of Tupelo – then refused to work with Lumpkin & Reeves on the non-Scruggs Balius case.

Senter said he was “tempted to impose sanctions” on State Farm’s counsel for their “cavalier refusal to honor their discovery obligations,” but Lumpkin & Reeves did not request sanctions.

Senter closed by letting the attorneys know their focus had better shift to resolving cases based on their merits.

He wrote, “Anything short of this will not be tolerated.”

Sun Herald
6/24/8