Texas firm picks up ex-Scruggs clients

The Provost-Umphrey Law Firm based in Beaumont, Texas, is now representing about 200 policyholders whose disputes with State Farm were being handled by Dickie Scruggs and associated law firms.

Provost-Umphrey attorneys met with ex-Scruggs clients Thursday in Gulfport, said senior partner Bryan O. Blevins Jr.

“Hopefully, we can get this litigation back on track to benefit the clients and, ultimately, the courts,” Blevins said Friday.

Scruggs had to relinquish the cases after he was charged in December with conspiring to bribe a North Mississippi judge. He subsequently pleaded guilty in the case. Once Scruggs was charged, State Farm asked a federal judge to dismiss other attorneys who had worked with him. A federal judge agreed to dismiss those lawyers, known as the Katrina Litigation Group.

Lexington attorney Don Barrett, who headed the Katrina Litigation Group, on April 18 wrote to the firm’s 400 clients suggesting they hire Provost-Umphrey and also saying the new firm would be sending them contracts at Barrett’s request.

Barrett said Friday he met managing partner Walter Umphrey during tobacco litigation. Umphrey’s firm had represented the state of Texas during the 1990s lawsuits over what states spent on health-care costs related to smoking; Barrett had worked with Scruggs on Mississippi’s case.

Umphrey’s firm also subleases office space in Nashville from Barrett’s nephew, who has a law firm there. Barrett is listed as an attorney with his nephew’s firm. Barrett said he recommended the firm because it has the resources to handle the cases and Umphrey agreed to take them on, large or small.

Sun Herald
5/11/8