Hammer time: more thoughts on Judge Acker’s civil contempt ruling on Scruggs, Rigsby sisters

In reading Judge Acker’s opinion of yesterday once again, it is striking how different this writing is from most judicial and legal writing — one can actually understand it, and it is well-written and enjoyable to read.   I say "enjoyable" not merely because I agree with what it says, but because the judge made good use of the writer’s storytelling tools.

One other thing: Judge Acker is perhaps the only person who knows all the facts that are known about the Rigsby sisters’ illicit taking of State Farm claims documents.  He has seen the documents themselves — they are under lock and key under a protective order in his courthouse under the injunction he issued in December 2006.  And I do not see in this opinion or his prior opinions any hint that these documents are blockbusters or that they have any explosive evidentiary value, or that they amount to anything at all. What is in the documents is not necessarily his concern in Renfroe v. Rigsby lawsuit before him, of course, but he knows what is in them.  And if that is true — that these documents are just so much hype promulgated by Scruggs and the Rigsby sisters — I wonder if that is one of the things driving his anger, in addition to the violation of his injunction.  There have been a number of depositions taken in the Renfroe case, including testimony submitted under seal, and he is undoubtedly aware of the evidence uncovered by special prosecutors appointed by him to go after Scruggs on a charge of criminal contempt, which was dismissed without an evidentiary hearing earlier this year.  So what there is to know about all this, Judge Acker knows it.  We don’t exactly know what it is that constitutes all that Judge Acker knows, but we do know this — what he does know has made him very upset. 

Before we go on, some brief context on what this is all about may be helpful.   Kerri and Cori Rigsby, working with Dickie Scruggs, took State Farm claims documents from their employer, E.A. Renfroe, a business hired by the insurer to adjust Katrina claims.  They did this in a massive "data dump" weekend in June 2006, but they also accessed State Farm databases, using a list of Scruggs’ Katrina plaintiffs, in March and April 2006.  They did this in a trailer on Trent Lott’s property near the Mississippi Coast. There is a dispute whether the Trailer Lawyers of Missouri were also there, or if they were present, how many were present and whether they were actively involved or merely on the couch watching All My Children.

Renfroe sued the Rigsbys for breach of their confidentiality agreement, and Renfroe got a summary judgment decision that they did breach.  During the course of this lawsuit, before the summary judgment, Renfroe asked for an injunction requiring the documents to be returned, and Judge Acker entered an injunction after he found a likelihood that Renfroe would be successful on the merits of its claims. This injunction was in December 2006.  It required the Rigsbys and all their "agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and other persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of this order, by personal service or otherwise (with the express exception of law enforcement officials)" to deliver the stolen documents to Renfroe’s attorneys.  

We all know what happened next.  Scruggs and Jim Hood talked on the phone, and Scruggs sent his copies of the documents to Hood, who already had his own copies of the documents when he took special delivery of them from the Rigsbys during the data dump.  In the criminal contempt prosecution, Judge Vinson dismissed the charges, saying Scruggs met this law enforcement exception, although as Judge Acker points out, this doesn’t make sense, because if that was the way to read the injunction, the Rigsbys themselves could have merely given the documents to Hood or even a passing off-duty cop to avoid giving them back. 

The "with the exception of law enforcement officials" is so obviously a qualifier of who needs to give the documents back, rather than an indication of where you can send the documents to avoid giving them back, that it hardly merits serious discussion.  But Judge Vinson saw it the other way, and he also said the court had no jurisdiction over Scruggs, and therefore he couldn’t have violated the injunction because it didn’t apply to him.  Vinson’s jurisdiction finding, however, was based on the ground that Scruggs was not the attorney-of-record, rather than on any failure of the injunction to extend to persons in Mississippi (Judge Acker’s court is in the District of Northern Alabama).  But, Judge Acker said, Scruggs was plainly an "agent" of the Rigsbys. and "if Scruggs was not subject to the injunction, nobody was." 

As he said:

Scruggs was the alter ego of the Rigsbys, and the Rigsbys were the alter egos of Scruggs.  They could not have been any more closely "identified" without obtaining a marriage license.  There were in bed together.

You get the idea — Mr. and Mrs. and Mrs. Rigsby-Scruggs.

Judge Acker also ripped the Rigsbys’ argument that they were allowed to take the documents in June 2006 in support of their False Claim Act case filed in April 2006.

Do they really argue that after filing the qui tam case, the Rigsbys were authorized by the False Claim Act and obligated to the taxpayers to steal Renfroe’s records two months after the qui tam case was filed?

Along the way, he ripped up Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood pretty good, calling him a "so-called ‘law enforcement official’ " and saying there was enough evidence for a jury to find he was a a co-conspirator and aider and abettor of Scruggs in the criminal contempt case.  Hood’s reaction to these statements, in this Clarion-Ledger story, was typically comical and nonsensical:

Hood says he intends to file a motion requesting Acker revise the ruling because of its "derogatory conclusion." "The rules of judicial performance do not allow a court to engage in unnecessary attacks on officers of the court, particularly when they are not even parties to the litigation. This Judge interfered with a grand jury investigation and we believe that either he, an appellate court, or the Alabama Commission on Judicial Performance will remedy this situation." 

Who writes this material?  I ask, because this is really funny stuff.  I often listen to Channel 150 on XM radio, which features continuous excerpts from live comedy shows, and I can easily picture hearing Hood’s routine on there some morning on the way to work.  Judge Acker interfered with the grand jury investigation?  How about Scruggs, who told him to shut it down so State Farm would settle Katrina cases with Scruggs and give him a pile of dough?  How about Hood, who is the one who actually shut down the grand jury without returning a single Katrina indictment? By Hood’s own statement, he and Scruggs should be reported and investigated.  Also, who says the attacks on Hood are "unnecessary," and whoever said he was an "officer of the court" in a case where he was not a party and where his only involvement was to help Dickie Scruggs hide documents that a judge ordered returned?  Officer of the court? Better bust the general back to private, if that’s the kind of officer he is. 

Now, it should be mentioned that earlier in the Renfroe case, much earlier, Judge Acker said the Rigsby were not in civil contempt. Obviously, because that is what he ruled Thursday, he changed his mind.  And what changed his mind, he said, was information that the Rigsby sisters:

copied State Farm documents using a list of Scruggs’s clients, and that these documents were segregated by them in a plastic boot box.  They were never mentioned by the Rigsbys until recently, and they have never been returned, although copies may be randomly scattered among the papers returned to Renfroe’s counsel and now stored under lock-and-key in the court’s chambers.  The Rigsbys admit that they did not return the boot box documents, but say they do not have the box and do not know where it is.  This court is tempted to deduce a location for the boot box documents, but will proceed on the assumption, at this late stage, that the boot box and its contents will never be found.

Which location do you think he was thinking of, the Scruggs Law Firm or the lair of the Trailer Lawyers?  Maybe both?

In any event, he found both Scruggs and the Rigsbys were in civil contempt for failure to return all the documents that were taken — he did not know about the trailer escapades until after his previous finding.

This court feels less reluctance to impose sanctions on the Rigsbys than it otherwise would feel because Scruggs is obligated as indemnitor to pay all monetary damages assessed in this case against the Rigsbys.

The amount of the sanctions, $65,000, representing Renfroe’s attorney fees spent chasing down the documents, is barely a couple days bills for what Scruggs paid his criminal lawyer, John Keker, and I presume Scruggs can easily pay this out of his annual receipts of tobacco settlement money.  Remember that the indemnity agreement is not in writing, however, and you have to think about all the other folks who have trouble enforcing oral agreements with Scruggs.  However, the Rigsbys know stuff about Scruggs, and it might be the wisest policy not to give them any reason to become upset.

Here’s an Associated Press story on Acker’s ruling.  Interesting that it focused on what Acker said about Hood, not what he said about Scruggs and the Rigsbys. 

Here’s an Anita Lee story in the Sun Herald, which talks about Scruggs and the Rigsbys in the lede, but also talks a lot about Hood.   Must have really stung, for Hood to come out and make crazy statements suggesting he somehow was going to intervene in the case and report the judge to ethics authorities.  The motion that Hood is going to file, what’s it going to be called — Motion To Make A Fool Of Myself? 

Lastly, so you don’t have to go the prior post, here is a copy of Judge Acker’s contempt order, and here is a copy of his opinion.  


Filed under Industry Developments

68 Responses to Hammer time: more thoughts on Judge Acker’s civil contempt ruling on Scruggs, Rigsby sisters

  1. Underdog

    “Motion to Make a Fool of Myself”
    Absolutely priceless.

  2. bellesouth

    “Scruggs was the alter ego of the Rigsbys, and the Rigsbys were the alter egos of Scruggs. They could not have been any more closely “identified” without obtaining a marriage license. There were in bed together.”
    That is not a legal opinion, it is not based on any law. He cites no law in his legal opinion. Legal opinions are supposed to be based on law — Primary Law. You know what that is David. I know what that is. There is no reference to any law of the land in this opinion. Cite me some law mister. And if Judge Acker has copies of those documents he better give them back because based on his arguments he is in possession of stolen goods.

  3. interestedinmiss

    I am glad, David, that you mentioned that Judge Acker had ruled differently earlier just as Judge Senter had ruled differently in the case he was sitting on. I think they are mad, mad, mad that they were duped by Scruggs or that because Scruggs was riding the pr wagon that they duped themselves. Did they know or should they have known that Scruggs was doing some underhanded things? I do not even know the Missouri lawyers or the lawyers that were kicked off the State Farm cases but I think they are being held to a higher level of “should have known” than these judges. We are praising thejudges but not asking if they should have done more in their first rulings. Some will post that more information came to light in the Nov. 2007 depositions of the Rigsbys but that also applies to the lawyers that have been kicked off the cases.

  4. Ironic

    Perhaps the Rigbsy sisters are not the naive, innocent, altruistic “whistleblowers” they make themselves out to be.
    Consider that when questioned as to why they accessed the claims files of a United States Senator (Lott,who had an open claim, was represented by Scruggs, and that Scruggs and the Rigbsy’s were in “bed together”)…
    … their answer for accessing such sensitive information was…
    ‘Oh, just curious.’
    I hope everyone on this board considers the Rigsby’s “Just curious” answer, and what that says about their credibility.
    Belle, whatcha think?
    HINT: On Lott’s homeowners claim I have heard NO mention of multiple engineering reports and NO mention of fraud. So, why or why would the sisters steal Lott’s information? Curiosity?

  5. David Rossmiller

    InterestedinMiss, my view of most overwhelming majority of federal judges is that far from being ogres they are reluctant to disturb the status quo or involve themselves in anything that looks like it might not be their concern or is just a normal part of elbow-throwing in any legal dispute. Most judges will give a party or their lawyers a break when they can, and because they see so much garbage and silly fighting, it takes a lot for them to get riled. So with both Senter and Acker, we can say new information had to come to light that not only changed their perspective but made them feel that people were taking advantage of their reluctance to impose penalties. That makes a federal judge or any judge feel like the party or lawyer has no respect for the law, the Rules or the Court, and they cannot tolerate being intentionally deceived.
    Bellesouth, who says a judge needs to cite any law in an opinion based on his changing his mind about an earlier deception of the Court? Plus, look at all the exhibits he attached to his opinion, he’s gone over the law in some extraordinary detail on the past. Sorry Judge Acker dumped all over your man Jimmy H., but he had it coming, as did Scruggs and the Rigsbys. My question: how long till the Rigsbys turn on Scruggs and sing like birds?

  6. NottaFelon

    Jimmy Sue Hood subscribes to the “opinion without the benefit of fact” school of thought. First, he is not an officer of the Alabama federal court. Second, there are no “rules of judicial performance,” it is the Code of Judicial Ethics. Third, the “Alabama Commission on Judicial Performance” does not exist. Fourth, the Alabama judicial review authority has no jurisdiction over a federal judge. And finally, there is no rule that applies to judges making derogatory comments about lawyers or public officials in the orders of the Court. Not only is Judge Acker free to call the facts as he sees them, he has a duty to do so.

  7. xerac

    Belle, I like how you ignore Judge Vinson’s own comment that a “cloud of suspicion surrounded the agreement between Scruggs and Hood” and that there are “ethical issues that should be examined.” Seriously, nothing seems to bother you that a person who is suppose to uphold the laws of the land can run roughshod over them but I suppose in your mind it’s o.k. since you are a Hoodophile. Wait for the day when some government official runs roughshod over your rights all in the name of finding out the “truth”.
    And, Belle, if you would read Acker’s current opinion, he refers to his memorandum opinion of 2007 in which he cites a lot of law:
    As I stated previously in another thread, he felt it would be a waste of time to go over it all again since his previous opinion is readily available (I found it in less than 5 minutes). Start on page 12.

  8. David Rossmiller

    Belle, that’s right, and also the police department that has an evidence room of stolen property should put itself in jail. I sense that there is nothing that Jim Hood could do that you couldn’t defend. If he was arrested for murder after being found in the act of pushing bodies of slaughtered people in a pit, you’d say he merely happened along, found the bodies, and thoughtfully took the time to stop and give them a decent burial.

  9. bellesouth

    Question: Can a judge impose a civil contempt order on someone who was not before the Court? Because Judge Vinson wrote unequivocably:
    “A. This court has no personal jurisdiction over Scruggs
    For jurisdictional purposes, the undisputed facts are that Scruggs was not a party, nor was he an attorney-of-record or at any time make an appearance in, the Renfroe case. Subject to exceptions discussed infra, it is axiomatic that courts only have power and jurisdiction to enjoin parties before the court. See Scott v. Donald, 165 U.S. 107, 117, 17 S. Ct. 262, 41 L. Ed. 648 (1897) (“The decree is also objectionable because it enjoins persons not parties to the suit.”); Infant Formula Antitrust Litigation, MDL 878 v. Abbott Laboratories, 72 F.3d 842, 842-43 (11th Cir. 1995) (court lacks jurisdiction to issue preliminary or permanent injunction against non-party); Doctor’s Assocs., Inc. v. Reinert & Duree, P.C., 191 F.3d 297, 302 (2d Cir. 1999) (“[A] court’s in personam order can bind only persons who have placed themselves or been brought within the court’s power.”) (citations omitted); Additive Controls & Measurement Systems, Inc. v. Flowdata, Inc., 96 F.3d 1390, 1394 (Fed. Cir. 1996) (“Courts do not write legislation for members of the public at large; they frame decrees and judgments binding on the parties before them. For that reason, courts of equity have long observed the general rule that a court may not enter an injunction against a person who has not been made a party to the case before it.”) (citing cases); see also 11A Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2956, at 335 (2d ed. 1995). If one is not bound by an injunction, it naturally follows that he cannot be held in contempt for violating that injunction.”
    Now I call that citing the law. I would think it would be pretty hard to argue with that. In fact, you really cannot based on the law, so that is why Judge Acker had his little temper tantrum and you will notice he did not base his decision on any law because there isn’t any to base it on. Based on Judge Vinson’s ruling, I can’t understand how he still thinks he can impose sanctions against Scruggs or the Rigsbys. So-called Judge Acker and his very special so-called federal prosecutors missed their deadline to appeal so Judge Acker issued his order instead. Is that legal?
    (see slabbed for longer discussion of this case).

  10. bellesouth

    Did you know that the special prosecutors were going appeal Judge Vinson’s order but they missed the deadline? They tried anyway and they wanted to hold evidentiary hearings while they were at it. (see folo at http://www.folo.us/2008/06/06/a-strange-aspect-of-judge-ackers-order/) The Scruggs filed their response which Judge Vinson agreed with. From the Scruggs Response:
    “Regardless, the evidentiary hearings sought by the special prosecutors would accomplish nothing. While the special prosecutors demand a hearing on whether or not Scruggs was counsel of record for the Rigsbys, this Court has already concluded that he was not, and that he could not be subject to the Court’s jurisdiction under an aiding and abetting theory either because the Rigsbys themselves did not commit contempt. Doc. 34, at 13-21. Moreover, while the special prosecutors request a hearing on whether Scruggs’s delivery of the documents to Attorney General Hood was a “sham,” the Court already concluded that: “Regardless of the subjective intent that Hood may have had when he requested the documents, the undisputed fact is that he did make such a request. The objective language of the injunction expressly authorized the law enforcement exception . . . .” Doc. 34, at 25 (emphasis added). The proposed evidentiary hearing would only bring forth evidence on an issue the Court concluded is ultimately irrelevant.”

  11. xerac

    Belle, I will see what Slabbed has posted, if it is anything new since this morning when I last read it. However, to call what they wrote a discussion is being, IMHJO, very loose with the word discussion. Slabbed is no less bias than this site and, while at times insightful and enjooyable, it is hardly what anyone would call objective.
    As for Scruggs involvement I like how you fail to read about the new evidence that has come to light and how Vinson made no ruling on the Civil Contempt charge. In fact, Vinson made sure he did not rule on the Civil Contempt, leaving that open for future consideration.
    And as I stated, Acker cited plenty of law when it came to the Civil Contempt charge, which I referenced for you in a previous post.

  12. ThirdSouth

    Speaking of “oh, just curious,” I’m wondering what Ma Lobrano’s relationship was to Trent and Dickie? What was she doing in that trailer, and why?

  13. bellesouth

    Question: Can a judge impose a civil contempt order on someone who was not before the Court?

  14. ThirdSouth

    Can’t Dickie write a check for $65,000 as easily as Zach can pay for a Grey Goose and Tonic at City Grocery? Does anyone think this is more than a gnat buzzing around the periphery of a pile of cash that dwarfs Fort Knox for value?

  15. bellesouth

    Why should he have to if he is not bound by the law? Why do you keep bringing up Ma? It’s like asking you what is your relationship to your mother. Acker threw a hissy fit and fled the country. Maybe he will stay away!
    He did not disclaim or vacate his factual findings that, inter alia, (i) Scruggs “controlled the documents when the injunction was issued; (ii) Scruggs was the “brains behind the injunction-avoidance scheme; (iii) the Rigsbys learned only after-the-fact that the documents had been shipped to Hood;
    and thus (iv) the evidence as developed “preclude[d] a jury finding that [the sisters] knowingly or willfully violated the terms of the preliminary injunction. Even the
    special prosecutors now acknowledge and argue repeatedly that Scruggs acted in
    his own commercial interests and without the Rigsbys knowledge and input.
    Judge Vinson wrote pages about how the Rigsby didn’t violate the injunction themselves. Just because the so-called Judge in Alabama changed his mind doesn’t make it so. He did it out of pure spite – very unseemly for a judge. Maybe I should say unethical.

  16. xerac

    Considering that Scruggs paid for the Rigsby sisters’ lawyers, after having chosen them for the Rigsby sisters, and promised to indemnify the Rigsby sisters in case of an adverse judgement, it sounds like Scruggs was directly involved and thus could be held in Civil Contempt.

  17. xerac

    I find it odd that Hood is only upset with Acker. I can understand his anger toward Acker but Vinson also impugned Hood’s honor, integrity, etc., (see page 24 of Appendix A of Acker’s Opinion):
    “I agree that there is a cloud of suspicion surrounding the agreement between Scruggs and Hood. Scruggs claims that he and Hood believed the documents would be returned to Renfroe and State Farm in violation of the protctive order, but he does not explain the basis for this concern. Moreover, even if the concern was well-founded in hindsight (as he now argues, see Doc. 7 at 7 n.3), he does not explain how that disclosure to Renfroe would have, or did, impede the crminal investigation. He also does not explain why he did not take his concerns to Judge Acker instead of making after-hour and weekend agreements with Hood. The timing of these events and of Scruggs’s other cases involving State Farm (one of which was settled just 10 days before the Attorney General returned the documents to counsel for Renfroe) is another reason to be suspicious, as is Hood’s unusual letter to United States Attorney Martin, suggesting that Scruggs not be prosecuted for contempt because he was a “confidential informant.”
    I apologize for quoting the entire passage but I do not want to be accused of quoting out of context. Also, Vinson, on page 25 of Appendix A goes on to question Hood’s intent in requesting the documents.
    Vinson definitely questions Hood’s ethics, morals, honor, integrity, etc.

  18. someonewhoknows

    Belleshouth: If you had done your research a little better you would know Hood as shown up in Birm. federal court in this case and even had a Birm. attorney represent him. Dickie Scruggs also appeared in court before and has been ordered to do things before (return documents). Both men have been in court, both are involved at the highest level, both interfered with the judges order, Acker said. So your line of question is pointless.
    Quinn’s story quotes Rigsby attorney Harlan Winn saying if SOMEONE pays the $65,000 the issue is moot, I wonder who he is implying? The way I hear it the Rigsby are running low on money. I wonder if Dickie might just pay the fine and move on…

  19. bellesouth

    Someonewhoknows — where do you get the information that Hood has shown up in Brm. federal court in this case and had a Birm. attorney represent him? My information came from Judge Vinson. If you have an argument about whether Scruggs was a party to Renfroe v. Rigsby, take it up with Judge Vinson. He said, “For jurisdictional purposes, the undisputed facts are that Scruggs was not a party, nor was he an attorney-of-record or at any time make an appearance in, the Renfroe case.”

  20. bellesouth

    01/11/2007 79 MOTION to Dismiss and/or Quash Preliminary Injunction by Scruggs Law Firm. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Affidavit of Zach Scruggs# 2 Exhibit Attachment to Affidavit)(Rogers, Bruce) (Entered: 01/11/2007)
    That is from the docket Renfroe v. Rigsbys. The first time Scruggs is mentioned is when he files his Motion to Dismiss the Injunction! Someonewhoknows, are you intentionally putting false information out there or can you cite your reference, please.

  21. ThirdSouth

    Dickie appears to be more smart than mean, but only by an eyelash, so my guess is he’ll pay the $65,000 quickly in order to tell Judge Biggers at sentencing that the case in Birmingham is over. I don’t believe he’ll be doing it from the goodness of his heart or for the Twisted Sisters, whom he appears to have dropped like hot potatoes except when it serves his purposes (like now).

  22. xerac

    I have a question:
    How was handing the documents that were in the possession of the Rigsby Sisters, and which Scruggs and Hood had copies of, going to impede a criminal investigation? To date, Hood has not, to my knowledge, filed one criminal charge against State Farm based upon those documents. So how valuable can those documents be and how informative can they be if after 2 years not a single criminal charge has been filed? I would think that 2 years is more than enough time to have gone over the documents.

  23. bellesouth

    The documents were not in the possession of the Rigsby sisters when the injunction was filed. They gave all of their copies away. It doesn’t matter what AG Hood does or doesn’t do with the documents — he is a law enforcement official and so Scruggs gave his copies to him. Period. End of story. The judge is mad that he didn’t write a different injunction but that is his fault. The documents must be pretty damning because Renfroe and State Farm are doing everything in their power to get them back. There is a Qui Tam filed against Snake Farm. The US Attorney General in Mississippi has not declined to be a party to the suit. Now if we could ever get to litigating the facts of the qui tam case and Snake Farm quits trying to get back door discovery to them which so far has been unsuccessful, we might find out, but right now Snake Farm is shitting in their pants with those documents out there. And you know what? Those documents — the data dump documents were copied after the suit was filed. Just imagine what they had when they filed the qui tam suit.

  24. xerac

    I will say this about Belle, she’s got guts. She comes onto a board that is not going to be friendly and fights what she believes to be the good fight, from what I can see. I don’t know Belle, have probably never met Belle, but I will say she may be the type of friend you will want because odds are she will be there for you if you need a friend. I have a feeling, barring some momentous piece of information, we will never agree on this issue but I have many friends like that.

  25. Belle, clearly an injunction can apply to a party and its agents and those who act in concert with the party. If this was not true, an injunction or any court order would be worthless. I’ve seen if myself first-hand. If you have, for example, a party’s insurer who violates a judicial order to do something, say, attend a settlement conference in person, the judge can and will issue sanctions against the insurer, even though the insurer is not a named party. The sanctions might even be joint and several against the party and its insurer, which results in practical terms in the insurer having to pay to avoid a bad faith claim by its insured. It’s just not correct what you are saying.

  26. bellesouth

    David if that is so, how come wrote this in his opinion:
    (“The decree is also objectionable because it enjoins persons not parties to the suit.”); (court lacks jurisdiction to issue preliminary or permanent injunction against non-party);(“[A] court’s in personam order can bind only persons who have placed themselves or been brought within the court’s power.”)(“Courts do not write legislation for members of the public at large; they frame decrees and judgments binding on the parties before them. For that reason, courts of equity have long observed the general rule that a court may not enter an injunction against a person who has not been made a party to the case before it.”) If one is not bound by an injunction, it naturally follows that he cannot be held in contempt for violating that injunction.

  27. Bob Neal

    Belle, the passage you quote is simply wrong. An injunction may, and often does, apply to other than the ‘parties’ to an action. But, by all means, please cling to your belief that the 11th Circuit will set aside the contempt finding. Won’t happen.

  28. xerac

    Belle, if the documents were so damning then it should have been a slam dunk for Hood to either sign onto the Qui Tam case or bring his own charges.
    And did it ever occur to you the reason State Farm wants to know which documents were taken is so it can prepare a proper defense, which it has a right to do. What if those documents, when put into context, shows no criminal intent, no fraud, etc. There is more than one way to look at things, Belle. I learned that in my Contract Law classes, besides the most important lesson: GET IT IN WRITING!

  29. bellesouth

    Bob Neal, that “passage” was written by Judge Vinson, appointed by the 11th District Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case US. v. Scruggs in Alabama when he dismissed criminal contempt charges against Scruggs. Even if Acker had jurisdiction, the court ruled that the law enforcement exception was enough to dismiss the charges.
    Xerac, the MS Attorney General does not enter into a federal case. I presume it is out of his jurisdiction. In terms of State Farm wanting to know which documents there are, there is a process called discovery which hasn’t happened in the qui tam case. They don’t want it to come out in discovery so they keep doing all of these smoke and mirrors things and confusing the plaintiff’s claims against State Farm with the qui tam. It hasn’t worked and it ain’t gonna work. There will be due process in the qui tam eventually. They got the lawyers for the qui tam disqualified by Judge Senter which was wrong because they asked for a hearing and never got one. They were not allowed due process. They were never involved in any of the SKG or KLG cases against State Farm. Hopefully, Judge Senter will reconsider his disqualifying those attorneys. They weren’t in any position to ratify or not ratify what Scruggs was doing in regards to the SKG lawsuits.

  30. xerac

    Belle, I didn’t realize that Missippi has a US AG. I thought you mistyped US instead of MS. Now, according to the USDOJ’s website there are 2 US attorneys in Missippi, one for the Northern District based in Oxford (Jim M. Greenlee) and one for the Southern District based in Jackson (Dunn O. Lampton). However, there is only one US Attorney General and he is Michael B. Mukasey.

  31. bellesouth

    Oops, thanks for the correction. I thought they were called attorney generals too.

  32. interestedinmiss

    In the Clairon Ledger for June 9 there is an article “Judge’s ruling denies sanctions over suits filed against insurer. David, can you post the eight page opinion referenced by the Clairon Ledger? The paper quotes part of it. “In the hundreds of cases brought against State Farm by the SKG, I have watched the property damage insurance claims, the contract claims of the heart of these cases being pushed off their rightful place at center stage by the escalating heat of the battles among State Farm, Renfroe and the SKG. This conflagration has not advanced the interest of the policyholders nor the ultimate resolution of these cases.”
    Finally, I think, a voice of reason.

  33. Bob Neal

    Just because Vinson wrote it doesn’t mean it was correct – Something Acker points out repeatedly.

  34. Alton

    State Farm, along with all insurers, have an obligation to protect confidential information provided by the insureds to the insurers in order to support their claims. As I have stated before, I would not want the Rigsbys or the Trailer Lawyers, or anyone else riffling through information I provided to an insurance company to support my claim.
    Many a claim employee has been fired for even inadvertantly accessing and disclosing confidential information from claim files. It is taken very seriously. In fact, I am suprised that as of yet, no State Farm policyholder has sued State Farm for failing to adequately protect these documents. It is probably due to the extraordinary efforts takes by Renfroe and State Farm to retrieve them that has prevented them from being sued. I believe Acker understands this as well, which is why they remain under seal.

  35. bellesouth

    Alton, the Rigsby sisters have worked for State Farm and Renfroe for nine years. I think they know. They were not disclosing confidential information to anyone but law enforcement officials, remember Whistleblowers, False Claims Act? As to Acker’s understanding of this — he said not to allow State Farm use of these documents. State Farm is trying to get them produced by discovery in McIntosh but the Scruggs say they can’t because of the protective order that has been put in place as you so duly noted — they remain under seal with the Court. (See slabbed for further details posted today from filings entered Saturday by the Scruggs.)
    Bob Neal, that may be correct but his three very special so-call federal prosecutors (one of whom works in the US Attorney’s office) missed the deadline to appeal which they tried to do anyway but lost their right when the three very special federal prosecutors couldn’t give one good reason for missing the deadline. “But, yo Honah, we thought it was 60 days.”

  36. sam

    To David Rossmiller:
    Would the State Farm policyholders who had their records stolen by the Rigby sisters and Team Scruggs et al, have the basis for a class action lawsuit against those responsible for the theft?

  37. bellesouth

    Sam, the records were not stolen, they were given to law enforcement officials.

  38. Sam

    Belle: How many law eforcement officers were in the trailer when the Rigby decided to disclose confidential State Farm policyholder information to thosw who were there?

  39. Oaege

    So, Belle, using your reasoning, if I access/hack your personal information because I believe you are up to no good, as long as I disclose it (eventually) to a so-called law enforcement official, then I am good? It’s not theft, I gave it to a cop!

  40. Underdog

    What about the records flaunted on national television? Would you want your private information rifled through by a TV news team?

  41. Coast Boy

    Yeah, Belle I think you need to go back and review the sister’s statements. They didnt start giving information to law enforcement until after giving it to Scruggs et al for several months piecemeal. If they had ONLY given it to law enforcement there would probably never have been the fracas that has developed but since they started out giving it to a plaintiff’s attorney who used it in litigation, your law enforcement\qui tam\ etc. arguments will never win anyone over. It continues to look like they were covering their bases after already making a plan with der scruggsmeister.

  42. Alton

    The “records were not stolen”, if by “stolen” you mean something other than taking items that do not belong to you without the owner’s permission.
    Try this experiment:
    Go to you local video rental store, set up your laptop in the corner and begin burning DVD’s of your choice. When confronted, simply explain that you are a confidential informant on a mission to uncover fraud in the movie industry and that all the DVD’s you copy will be turned over to a law enforcement official.
    I’d submit that you will be turned over to a law enforcement official before the copies.

  43. Bob Neal

    Wow Belle, just as you were starting to sound like you had a shred of logic, you come out with “they weren’t stolen.” It matters not that they were turned over – law enforcement hadn’t sought them. And if LE had wanted them, there’s this little thing called a warrant and/or a subpoena. BTW, by accessing those files without permission or authority, the sisters committed a federal crime (as did the attorneys present).

  44. Sam

    Belle aka Mrs. Scruggs: The Rigby sisters knowingly and intentionally took something of value, which didn’t belong to them. They did so secretly, with the expressed purpose of a promised financial gain for doing so. For their efforts in the resulting successful theft of State Farm policyholder information, Scruggs et al, rewarded them with $150,000 each in annual consulting fees. How on earth can you defend their actions? Also, have you ever heard of civil RICO cause of actions against people who conspire to steal other peoples property.

  45. Ironic

    Belle, surprise, surprise, you have not attempted to explain away why the Rigbsy’s stole Trent Lott’s information… Did it have to do with fraud or rather to assist Mr. Scruggs negotiate a settlement on the Senator’s claim. “Just curious.”
    Please give us your opinion.
    How Ironic that you have chosen not to respond to my last few questions? You still have not disclosed your direct or indirect connections to Mr. Hood’s office. I heard you say you never worked for him or his office. So, what is the connection and the source of your bias? Please tell.

  46. bellesouth

    You all premise the allegation that they stole the documents. Trent’s records stolen? Well obviously this is the place to come for disinformation. You have come out in full force. I don’t concede, but I ain’t playing.

  47. Dustin

    “You all premise the allegation that they stole the documents.”
    Please, please, please, please, please, Belle, give us your definition of taking something secretly that does not belong to you. Forget about handing over the documents to law officials, forget about the “greater good” bull, forget about how Snake Farm sacrifices babies to the insurance gods and answer the question. I think if you answered the question you might get a shred of credibility.

  48. Ironic

    Disinformation? Please shed some light Belle. The Rigbsy’s themselves said “stolen” in their depo’s, and I have not heard one good reason yet why Scruggs (through Rigbsy’s) had Trent Lott’s personal and confidential claim files while an active claim was being worked.
    Please clear up the misunderstanding.

  49. Sam

    Belle: If the records weren’t stolen, then why were they taken in the first place and given to Team Scruggs?

  50. Entertained

    Belle, one would think from your last post that you are taking your ball and going home. Really? Just because we “all premise the allegation that they stole the documents” (whatever that means; I’m trying really hard not to point out that “premise” is not a verb and, even if it is sometimes used that way, this particular sentence is incomprehensible)? I guess if this blog is the place to come for disinformation, then us bloggers can all thank Judge Acker for disinforming us, such as where he said in his most recent order:
    “Applying Judge Vinson’s reasoning, if the Rigsbys had had possession of the ILLICITLY ACQUIRED MATERIALS on December 8, 2006, the date of the injunction, they could, with impunity, have deposited the materials with General Hood, like Scruggs did, in reliance upon the supposed ‘law enforcement official’ exception. On that date, the Rigsbys still had some STOLEN materials in their possession.”
    (You’ll forgive me for capitalizing a few of Judge Acker’s words. I just wanted to make sure you didn’t miss them. Again.)
    And even if it isn’t presently established that the Rigsby sibs physically purloined Trent Lott’s records, the sisters’ own words demonstrate they at least accessed the records for no legitimate or authorized purpose. You wouldn’t defend that, would you? Or, wait a minute — I have a premonition. I predict you’ll figure out a way to turn this circumstance on its head, as usual. I believe I hear you concocting an argument that, while the Rigsbys’ excursion through the Lott records was admittedly illicit, it’s just the sort of thing a Snake Farm type might do; and, at the time, the Rigsbys, in working for Renfroe, were under the influence of vipers. Aw, Belle, don’t go. Our playground is all yours.

  51. bellesouth

    bellesouth now take this break so you can hear from the sponsors of this thread — State Farm.

  52. Coast Boy

    You guys don’t get it… Ms Belle has run head first into a little thing we like to call “the truth” and can’t withstand the scrutiny. That is why she said she “aint playing” anymore.

  53. Sam

    Dear Mr. Rossmiller: I guess it’s time to call it quits, now that you’ve had enough fun pestering the rest of us, with your illogical doublespeak responses.
    Admit David, you’re the real BELLESOUTH. After all, what person in their right mind would seriously write such foolishness.

  54. Entertained

    Roll call!
    Whaddya all say that, just to ease Belle’s mind, we confirm we have no affiliation with State Farm? I’ll start:
    No affiliation!

  55. bellesouth

    I was here all day Sunday. I guess it’s not hard to figure out the ones that don’t “work” on Sundays.

  56. Coast Boy

    It wont matter to her… she seems to have a hard time with facts.

  57. Sam

    I have a Commercial/Business Automobile policy covering 5 vehicles (Teenage Driving School) with State Farm. My personal Home & Automobile policies are with USAA. Other than paying State Farm a monthly premium, I have no other affiliation with the firm.

  58. Beau

    No affiliation with SF here, but I once had them for a carrier years ago and I was born/raised about 60 miles from their home office. Hope that doesn’t make me biased toward them. I guess I should also point out that in the 10 years I had their insurance, i never had a claim so I can’t say anything good or bad about their claim handling from personal experience.

  59. Oaege

    Stupid is as stupid does. There’s just no convincin’ some people.
    (Psst….. O.J. was INNOCENT!!!)

  60. Underdog

    I’m a State Farm insured. Does that count?

  61. bellesouth

    Ok, oaege is one, underdog is maybe two. I have a State Farm homeowners’ policy but you KNOW I don’t work for them!

  62. Rigsby sisters sought out Scruggs-client files

    It’s time to upgrade the stolen-insurance-files affair to a scandal in its own right, with Judge Acker’s declaration in his opinion that the Rigsby sisters “copied State Farm documents using a list of Scruggs’s clients” and that they and Scruggs…

  63. Jace

    Well, I worked for them, but since that was so long ago Moby Dick was still a minnow, does it still count?

  64. Interesting

    How interesting….in one fell swoop, bellesouth got yall totally off subject. See Coast Boy @ 9:50 AM.

  65. Just Me

    I think Belle is Anita Lee from the Sun Herald. If anyone has read her one sided articles in the SH, and compare it to the one sided post on here and slabbed she seems to be one in the same!

  66. Rob in CT

    BelleSouth: “I have a State Farm homeowners’ policy”
    Hold the phone. Why? You obviously think they are guilty of bad faith claims handling wrt Katrina. You obviously feel this is a pervasive corporate practice at “Snake Farm.” Yet you still have your homeowners insurance through them? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
    If I believed my insurance company guilty of things like that, I’d switch carriers.

  67. tsetse

    Is it just my imagination, or has this blog fallen prey to a hijack?

  68. bellesouth

    I am actually considering Rob in CT. But since I live where flooding is an impossibility, I realize that my State Farm agent and those he employs shouldn’t be made to pay for his carrier’s misdeeds.