Scruggs Katrina team re-forms
By ANITA LEE
6 December 2007The Sun Herald (Biloxi, MS)
(c) Copyright 2007, The Sun Herald. All Rights Reserved.
The Scruggs Katrina Group has re-formed as the Katrina Litigation Group because former lead attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs and two lawyers in his Oxford firm face criminal charges.
The Scruggs Law Firm dropped out of the group Tuesday. Katrina Litigation Group attorney Don Barrett of Lexington told the Sun Herald on Wednesday that Bay St. Louis attorney Zach Butterworth has joined the Katrina Litigation Group to represent 1,132 families in their legal disputes with insurance companies. So far the group has filed about 500 lawsuits on behalf of policyholders, with more expected.
"To the extent that we need more lawyers, our phones have been ringing off the walls with old friends willing to help," Barrett said. "We are going to have all the legal firepower we need to properly represent folks."
Other members of KLG are Nutt & McAlister in Ridgeland, which has been financing litigation costs and the Lovelace Law Firm, based in Destin, Fla.
Former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore is associated on at least one case against State Farm but is not a member of KLG.
Barrett, Scruggs and Moore worked together while Moore was attorney general to successfully sue Big Tobacco.
Barrett said KLG has not lost clients as a result of indictments announced last week against Scruggs and two other attorneys in his firm, son Zach Scruggs and Sidney A. Backstrom.
They have pleaded not guilty to charges they conspired to bribe a North Mississippi judge with $40,000 cash in a dispute with another attorney over legal fees. The fees involved a State Farm settlement SKG reached on behalf of policyholders in late 2006.
Steve Patterson, a consultant with Balducci and Patterson in New Albany and a former state auditor, also has pleaded not guilty.
Timothy Balducci, an attorney portrayed by investigators as the middleman in the bribery scheme, entered a guilty plea, the Associated Press reported. He is cooperating with the investigation.
Barrett said he believes members of the Scruggs firm will be exonerated.
"We've had many calls of support," Barrett said, "And quite a few calls of concern for Dickie."
Katrina Litigation Group
The Katrina Litigation Group said it represents 1,132 families who lost property to Hurricane Katrina and are involved in legal disputes with their insurance companies. The status of those cases:
200 cases filed in U.S. District Court against State Farm.
24 cases filed in U.S. District Court against USAA.
91 cases against Nationwide to be filed in U.S. District Court.
264 cases against the Mississippi wind pool filed in state courts.
79 cases against Mississippi Farm Bureau filed in state courts.
KATRINA LITIGATION GROUP
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