Synchronicity scheduled to strike Scruggs on Feb. 25

John O'Brien Jan. 4, 2008, 3:42pm


GULFPORT, Miss. - Indicted trial lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs might soon have to find a way to appear in two places at the same time.

Scruggs received a subpoena Friday ordering him to testify during the Feb. 25 trial of one of the more well-known Hurricane Katrina lawsuits against State Farm Insurance Cos., the same day he is scheduled to go on trial for allegedly attempting to bribe a state judge.

The two trials are 331 miles apart.

"You are commanded to appear in the United States district court at the place, date and time specified below to testify in the above case," says the subpoena, which can be viewed here.

Scruggs, his son Zach (also facing bribery charges) and attorney John Jones each were told to be present at the trial of Thomas and Pamela McIntosh, who allege that State Farm misrepresented the amount of damage done to their home by wind (covered by State Farm's policy) and water (covered by a federal program).

The McIntosh trial starts at 10 a.m. Scruggs' is scheduled to start at 9 a.m., though it already has been postponed from Jan. 22 in order to allow his defense team time to gather and inspect the evidence federal prosecutors say they have.

Scruggs Law Firm member Sidney Backstrom and former state Auditor Steven Patterson are the Scruggs' co-defendants in the trial. Attorney Timothy Balducci has already pleaded guilty to a bribery charge and is cooperating with federal prosecutors.

The five are alleged to have offered $40,000 to Lafayette County Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey in exchange for a favorable ruling in a dispute with Jones' firm over $26.5 million in attorneys fees earned in a settling of 640 cases against State Farm.

Since the November indictment, Scruggs' firm dropped out of all Katrina cases. The remaining firms that once made up the Scruggs Katrina Group renamed themselves the Katrina Litigation Group.

Thursday, State Farm moved to disqualify those three firms (Nutt & McAlister, The Lovelace Law Firm and Barrett Law Office) from McIntosh, just as it had done in Glenda Shows' case against the company.

Scruggs faces up to 75 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines. In the McIntosh case, he filed a motion to intervene Dec. 27 with the intention of defending himself against an order that requires he be deposed.

The subpoena he received also requests the production of certain documents, such as any communications between Scruggs and the whistleblower Rigsby sisters, state Attorney General Jim Hood and any media contact.

The subpoena sent to Zach Scruggs makes the same requests, while the one sent to Jones asks for the original damage report performed Oct. 12, 2005, on the McIntoshes' home, a sticky note that was attached to it and any evidence that shows the two items were in possession of the SKG.

The plaintiffs say Forensic Analysis and Engineering Corp engineer Brian Ford expressed in his original report on the home that wind was mostly to blame, but he filed an amended report once State Farm did not agree with his.

The plaintiffs claim they have a computer instant message from a Forensic employee that shows State Farm would prefer structural damage be attributed to wind.

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