The Rigsby Files, July 29: the unraveling begins

I grew up in a tough school with a lot of colorful characters who used a lot of colorful language, and consequently I have a wide repertoire of colorful expressions for a variety of situations in life, such as when stuff surprises or amazes me.  For public consumption, though, I censor most of these and translate them into one of several stock phrases, such as Holy Cow!  So in reading some depositions attached to the latest State Farm filings in Ex rel. Rigsby, the False Claims Act case where the Trailer Lawyers got kicked out, I had cause several times to say Holy Cow! 

Now, I have seen for some time that the Rigsby Sisters’ story line that had been sold originally — "Hero Sisters Aid Crusading Lawyer Scruggs In Stopping Insurance Company Fraud" — was going to undergo a substantial makeover.  This really didn’t require any great prescience, and the same observation could have been made by anyone who was paying a moderate degree of attention.  Obviously, Dickie Scruggs has totally discredited himself, so the demand for the original story line is somewhere up there with the demand for salmonella-laced tomatoes and new chapters of the Milli Vanilli fan club.  I mean, if someone was pitching this story to those two con men in The Producers today — the ones looking for the worst play possible to stage, one that was sure to bomb — they would pick the original Rigsby-Scruggs story over "Springtime for Hitler." 

So let’s face it, we all knew a change had to come.  The only question is how big the change would be.  Well, the results from the precincts are beginning to come in, and it looks like the whole darn Rigsby story might come unglued like a letter held over a steaming tea kettle.   

OK, but we don’t want to rush through all the details at once here.  First, we may want to acknowledge that there were some ridiculous elements to the story from the beginning, stuff that just never did add up.  I mean, it’s a little like the song "Hang Fire," by the Rolling Stones — I laugh every single time I think about this song, where the counterculture icon, party master Mick Jagger is berating his fellow Englishmen for being lazy slobs who won’t work for a living.  (Although if you have ever seen Jagger in concert, you have to admit he is one hard working son of a gun — thus, the source of his irritation). Here’s one thing that stands out from this new brief, which talks about the Rigsbys’ conversations with two fellow workers at the E.A. Renfroe Co., Dana Lee and Tammy Hardison. 

Sometime in March 2006, the Rigsbys told Ms. Lee that they were going to work for Dickie Scruggs by providing him with documents about his clients. (Lee Dp. at 59-60.) They tried to convince Ms. Lee and Ms. Hardison to assist them, saying: “You’ll be heroes. We are going to get a book deal. We’re going to make a movie. . . . We’re going to be famous.” (Lee Dp. at 63.)

When I’m reading this, I’m saying Holy Cow! to myself: Book deal? A movie? And I’m thinking: this is starting to read like a sequel to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.    

Now there is so much good stuff here we could easily get ahead of ourselves, so we have to slow down a bit and talk just a little about what this brief is about.  It’s part of the continuing fight over whether the Provost Umphrey firm can take the place of the disqualified Trailer Lawyers.  We all know, of course, that for sheer hilarity no one can take the place of the Trailer Lawyers, so on that ground they are a poor substitute.  I will grant you that there is a certain Dickensian cast to the firm name — Provost Umphrey.  Sounds a bit like one of the great Dickens character names, like Uriah Heep (David Copperfield),  Uncle Pumblechook (Great Expectations) , Mr. McChoakumchild (Hard Times) or Paul Sweedlepipe (Martin Chuzzlewit).  But until I see evidence they’ve been in a trailer, I’m indifferent to whether they get to step into the case or not.  Here’s a copy of the brief, by the way.

And the brief also contains this gem:

In fact, Ms. Lee and Ms. Hardison testified that they were at Cori Rigsby’s house in December 2005 and observed the Rigsbys watching the movie “The Insider,” a film based
upon Scruggs’ exploits in the tobacco litigation. While watching “The Insider,” the Rigsbys
were discussing who was going to play each of them in their future movie. (Lee Dp. at 71-72; Hardison Dp. at 40-41.)

A couple things about this passage are striking.  First, the name "The Insider" takes on new meaning with Dickie Scruggs soon to go inside a federal prison. Second, December 2005 is before the Rigsbys acknowledge hooking up with Scruggs — but about the same time he went to then-Insurance Commissioner George Dale with a demand for Dale to support him in his quest to become a Katrina Czar overseeing a half-a-billion dollar fund he proposed to wring out of State Farm through the use of State Farm "insiders."  Third, if this is true — and I have no idea whether it is or not, I merely note the implications of the new testimony — it means the Rigsbys’ testimony about the timeline of their involvement with Scruggs is inaccurate. Fourth, what actresses did they want to play them?  We don’t learn this essential fact. UPDATE: A reader points out below in the comments that, in one of the depositions, Kerri Rigsby wanted Sandra Bullock to portray her in the movie.  Bullock is a fine actress, although I’m not sure she’s demonstrated the range to depict the Machievellianism suggested by the depositions.  I mean, Kerri comes across in these depos as a cross between Ma Barker and Lucrezia Borgia.   I make no representation as to the accuracy of this testimony, I merely comment as to its appearance. 

Another interesting passage suggests Cori Rigsby had to be talked into participation in The Katrina Follies by her sister, Kerri, and mother, Pat Lobrano: 

Indeed, it now appears that Cori Rigsby was initially a reluctant participant. (Lee Dp. at 59-60; Hardison Dp. at 36-37.) The fact that she had to be convinced by her sister and mother to join forces with Scruggs evidences her awareness that what she was being asked to do was improper. [This next part originally was in a footnote to the preceding paragraph]. In contrast, Kerri and her mother appear to have immediately enjoyed the “cloak and dagger” aspect of Scruggs’ underhanded methods. (Hardison Dp. at 43-44.) For example, Ms. Lee and Ms. Hardison saw Kerri Rigsby again in May, 2006, when they traveled to Pensacola for Memorial Day weekend. (Lee Dp. at 77-78.) Ms. Rigsby told Ms. Lee that she could only stay for a couple of hours because she had received a call from Scruggs and had to take her computer to a hacker for Dickie. (Lee Dp. at 79; Hardison Dp. at 46-47.)

Everyone has been pretty patient so far, so let’s get to the depositions.  Here is the deposition of Dana Lee, the one talked about in the brief. Some interesting things you will want to check out in it.  One is the supposed "shopping trip" the Rigsbys took to Texas in late 2005, which I heard about some time ago and wrote about back in April, and which some believe was merely a cover story for meeting Scruggs there (in support of this theory, you might note that Scruggs has demonstrated a fondness for out-of-jurisdiction meetings with witnesses and "insiders" over the years).  

Also, Lee testifies to Kerri Rigsby’s supposed efforts to influence the adjusting of her mother’s Katrina claim. And she talks about the supposed meeting Scruggs had with a State Farm "insider" in Bloomington, which he bragged about in a news story, and which turns out to be so much Scruggsian hot air — he hired a guy to meet him at the airport and hand him an empty envelope to make it look like he was getting some top secret documents.  I guess he had no qualms about staging this phony baloney stunt and then claiming it as real to the media, but then again, that’s not so hard to believe about a guy who would bribe a judge.   

Here is the deposition of Tammy Hardison.  This has a lot of the same information as the Lee deposition, but the testimony manages to portray Kerri Rigsby in an even poorer light, heavy on ruthless, two-faced conniving qualities but light on horsepower between the ears.  Here’s an example:

Q. Tell me about that. 
A. Kerri came over to my camper and asked me if I would look through my files and — any of my claimants and look and see if I saw anything that maybe looked kind of strange or something that maybe Dickie might want to, you know, have their name. And I told her no. 
Q. Okay. And did you ask her at any time why she was doing it? 
A. Well, yes. I was very upset that she was doing it. And she said, well, we’ll never get caught. We’ll never, you know, be found out. 

Kerri Rigsby thought she would never be found out? Holy Cow!  Did someone tell her that, or did she come up with that idea all on her own? Because, you know, that is simply absurd, on the one hand talking about being big movie star heroes, and on the other hand, no one will ever know.  Kind of like thinking no one will ever know if you go to work wearing pants made out of aluminum beer cans.  

Just so it’s easier for you to compare what Lee and Hardison testified to what Kerri said to what Kerri said she said during her own deposition on April 30 and May 1, 2007, here is a copy of that Kerri Rigsby deposition

The import of all of this? The Ride of the Rigsbys is definitely over, finished, bye-bye, ancient history, kaput, ausgespielt. If I was in their shoes, I’d still be thinking about who would play me in the movie, but this time I’d be worried.





Filed under Industry Developments

40 Responses to The Rigsby Files, July 29: the unraveling begins

  1. Dustin

    Great job as always. I can’t help but wonder where Belle is though.

  2. Anderson

    “Ausgespielt”? I love this blog!

  3. JacksonAtty

    Actually, in the Hardison depo at 40-41, Kerri says that she would like her role to be played by Sandra Bullock.

  4. JacksonAtty

    Also, check out Hardison at p. 32 for a description of Ma Labrano’s past with Dickie.

  5. CoastBoy

    Belle is somewhere finding people that will say these two witnesses pulled wings off butterflies as children and have state farm tattoos under their panties.

  6. Florida Hurricane Survivor

    OMG..this just gets better and better. If they are still looking for who should play them in their movie, I would suggest Rosie O’Donnell and Heidi Fleisch.

  7. ThirdSouth

    Belle is no doubt preparing a zinger of a defensive post for Ma Lobrano, who comes across in these depositions a lot like Ma Barker.

  8. Jason Barney

    If “Holy Cow” is too racy how about “Jeepers!”?

  9. stephen gowan

    you clearly have an agenda and a need to pander to your insurance company clients but your attacks commentary are tiring. The bottom line is after all the hoopla over scruggs and Rigsby’s is sifted through, Did Renfroe and/or State Farm defraud homeowners? If yes then they should go to jail even faster than Scruggs. If not end of case. If yes then you should be ashamed of your writings. It is the bottom line issues that matter not the Scruggs and Rigsby red herring stuff.

  10. dixie68

    The last poster need to calm down, as he really has his knickers in a knot.
    Thank you so much, Mr. Rossmiller, for being a beacon of light. Without you and Yall Politics, we Mississippians would really be in the dark, as we have no newspaper worth reading in our part of the state.

  11. Don in New Orleans

    Stephen Gowan = Bellesouth?
    How can Scruggs (Dad), Scruggs (son), Backstrom, Balducci, Patterson, Langston, and the Rigsby Sisters be “red herrings?” And how could Mr. Gowan suggest that State Farm “go to jail” before Dickie Scruggs’ report date of August 4, 2008 (less than a week from now)? Has State Farm been indicted, tried or plead guilty without my awareness?
    Thanks, Stephen Gowan, for a truly informative post.

  12. Entertained

    Mr. McGowan: May I suggest some Splenda to improve the taste of your sour grapes? I, for one, do not find Mr. Rossmiller’s “attacks [sic] commentary” to be tiring in the least. Quite the contrary. Everything in this blog is utterly refreshing. If your heart bleeds for Scruggs & Company, may I suggest you go elsewhere for your blogging needs? Because here, the blogmaster calls ’em as he sees ’em. And, as much as you’d apparently like his observations to be irrelevant, well, they simply aren’t. Is the story about greed? Yup. But you don’t get to decide whose greed defines the story. The chips are gonna fall where they may.

  13. Why is Stephen Gowan allowed to have an agenda and I am not? What do you think this is, the Associated Press? The very definition of a blog is someone with an agenda. That being said, you have no idea who my clients are, so stop pretending you do.

  14. Don in New Orleans

    Folks, regarding “Stephen Gowan” (who may be a lawyer in Petal, Mississippi): Here is his long-ago post on, regarding the then-just-announced indictment of Scruggs et al:
    “I not a scruggs fan at all. But there is really something fishy here. First in Mississippi, if there is an arbitration agreement it is going to be enforced. So why would any lawyer pay to have an arbitration agreement enforced. It simply would not happen. On first reading it looks bad. Then you realize you have no quotes from Scruggs or any other defendants except Balduci who appears to have been wearing a wire. You mean they are stupid enough to bribe a judge to get an arbitration ruling they were going to win at trial level or on interlocutory appeal but they were too smart to talk about it on tape. Hell any first year law school graduate could win this case
    stephen gowan on December 3rd, 2007”

  15. Beau

    Maybe Scruggs and Company should have gotten a “first year law school graduate” to handle their defense on the criminal charges, so they could have prevailed on the criminal end. I tend to agree with Entertained about if a person doesn’t like what the blogmaster writes about something, go elsewhere to read your blogs, or disagree for discussion sake. Attacking the person that writes the blog is pretty childish, to say the least There are plenty of them out there that will stroke your ego just the way you like it.

  16. proximo

    BelleSouth (funny, initials are BS…I think that is telling…) Hasnt made her appearance yet. I bet she is still somewhere trying to finding out dirt on the two latest witnesses or at an insurance policy book burning rally.

  17. BS Caddy

    I love it!!! Ma “The Crush” Lobrano…

  18. claimsguy

    The myth of the altruistic Rigsbys is officially dead.

  19. BS Caddy

    Oh, wait! The “BS” does not stand for “BelleSouth”! I swear it, man!

  20. Thick

    The true heroines here are Ms. Lee, Ms. Hardison and little Payton. Maybe Rin Tin Tin could take Patyon’s depo…”when did you become aware you were the president a corporation? Woof! Did you find it suspicious that Kerri/Cori did not leave you with Tammy/Dana when they took a clandestine trip to Dallas to meet with Dickie? Woof! Did Dickie promise you a lifetime supply of salmon pate’ if you kept your mug shut? Woof.

  21. ThirdSouth

    That crush between Ma Lobrano and Dickie sounds awfully deep and penetrating.

  22. Thick

    BS on Slabbed has sunk to depths I can’t fathom. Done here. David, thank you for realzing the truth before the truth was real. Thick out.

  23. David Rossmiller

    Thick, do you mean the truth about the Rigsbys or about Bellesouth?

  24. Born Far Too Late

    But somehow they still manage to find counsel willing to represent them with most of the truth already out there. Who knows what more damaging information is going to come out about them and their mother. What happened with that Alabama fine? Did Dickie pay it for them or what?

  25. Nomiss

    Thirdsouth: “That crush between Ma Labrano and Dickie sounds awfully deep and penetrating.”
    Interesting choice of words, thirdsouth.

  26. Born Far Too Late

    Nomiss, I’m glad you said something because I thought 3dSo was dropping hints about something not normally discussed on this blog. Not that I’m complaining, mind you…

  27. Mississippian

    “Thick, do you mean the truth about the Rigsbys or about Bellesouth?” Ok, David, you’ve peeked my interest—truth about Bellesouth????

  28. Concerned in Claims

    David, Thanks for posting the new depositions. They leave ZERO doubt that the Rigsbys have violated EVERY policy a carrier has for independent adjusters, independent managers, and staff employee relationships and protocols. It sickens anyone in claims that is a professional to read about their activities.

  29. Seacrest

    There are a few new news reports regarding some of the actual questions Zach and Dickie invoked the 5th on in their depositions, FYI.
    They revolve around Trent Lott, Hood and US Congressman Gene Taylor.


    I’m just glad the Rigsbys didn’t ask engineers to alter their documents.

  31. Scruggs and Rigsby update: dynamite depositions

    What other illegalities has Richard (“Dickie”) Scruggs committed besides the one that’s sending him to prison? According to the AP’s Holbrook Mohr (via), in Scruggs’s deposition in the ongoing McIntosh v. State Farm lawsuit, the insurer’s attorneys “‘a…

  32. xerac

    Folks, why this obsession with Belle? Seriously, you know the position she will take. Besides, all I have to do is click on my favorite link to find out. It’s interesting to see what the other side thinks, even if I feel they are wrong more times than not.

  33. Layne

    David, if someone had an agenda and wanted to discredit a witness or group of witnesses they couldn’t make up something more damning.
    David, I appreciate you bringing all this to us, with rational analysis, and some humor as well.
    Put me on the pre-order reservation list for your book.

  34. Nor'easter

    You go David … ‘Rigsby et al’ are definately between a rock and the proverbial hard place. Actually,between BARS would be even better, but let’s arrange for trial outside MI jurisdictions and have the 5th Fed circuit review the appeal !

  35. Beau

    I see that the infamous Belle made an appearance in the newer thread, showing all the class and intelligence she could muster up. Is it a wonder she has been kicked out of a couple other blogs out there? I guess it’s what some call entertainment.

  36. Nomiss

    It appears that one can believe either the Rigsby sisters OR Hardison and Lee since their depositions give totally different accounts about how SF dealt with claims after Katrina. IF Hardison’s and Lee’s depositions are truthful, Dickie Scruggs is a “lying schemer.” I tend to believe Hardison and Lee, yet I do think that Kerri and her mother thought that DS could “fix” everything.

  37. zoom

    It is hard to believe that this story is not made up.
    As this story continues to unfold, I keep thinking this is either going to make a great John Grisham novel, or a Duke’s of Hazard episode gone horribly awry.
    Dickie firing up the plane to go “scare” Snake Farm. Jim Hood/ Boss Hogg threatening to put Ed Rust in jail. Zach. The Rigsby’s playing cloak and dagger and hiding docs in a boot box. The trailer lawyers. And my personal favorite, the dog that was head of a corporation.

  38. sam

    When will the Rigsby sisters finally face justice and be indicted for being the lying thieves they’ve already admitted they are?

  39. ThirdSuth

    What more do you need than a deposition in which subjects admit stealing something? Is it rare for a prosecutor to be handed on a silver deposition platter sworn confessions from admitted thieves? Are investigations of the Twisted Sisters pending by the US Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi or the Attorney General for the State of Mississippi? Do Cori and Kerri live in “magic jurisdiction”? Ah, Mississippi.

  40. Born Far Too Late

    Why do they now want to mediate the case filed by Renfroe against them? They claim to have no money and are constantly using the media to gin up sympathy for them due to their lack of money. What do they think they bring to the table in a mediation unless Dickie is going to pay the piper, er, Renfroe?