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Answers wanted from Rigsby sisters

By John O'Brien | Jan 3, 2008

The Rigsby sisters

GULFPORT, Miss. - E.A. Renfroe and Co., Inc., is seeking to force the two "whistleblower sisters" to answer questions to which their attorneys objected in a November Hurricane Katrina-related deposition.

In a joinder to a motion made by State Farm Insurance Cos, E.A. Renfroe on Thursday backed up the argument made by State Farm Dec. 21.

"At the direction of their and plaintiffs' counsel, the Rigsbys have yet again refused to answer questions regarding their unauthorized use of State Farm computers and documents they admittedly stole from State Farm. Instead, they asserted claims of purported work product and attorney-client privilege," State Farm's motion says.

Kerri Rigsby and Cori Rigsby Moran claim the documents they obtained from State Farm proved the company was attempting to shortchange policyholders after Katrina by misrepresenting the amount of structural damage done by wind (covered by the policy) and water (covered by a federal program).

State Farm thinks the sisters met with attorneys in the Scruggs Katrina Group in a trailer to use State Farm computers to download several documents. The Rigsbys, who later joined the SKG as insurance litigation consultants at a salary of $150,000, gave more than 15,000 documents to indicted trial lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, who gave them to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood instead of the company's attorneys.

For that, Scruggs was charged with criminal contempt by prosecutors appointed by U.S. District Judge William Acker, who had ordered the return of the documents. He's also been charged with attempting to bribe a state judge.

During the deposition of Kerri Rigsby, SKG attorney Sidney Backstrom said that whatever happened in the trailer was subject to attorney-client privilege, because the SKG represented the Rigsbys. Backstrom has since also been indicted in the alleged bribery scheme, and the SKG became the Katrina Litigation Group when the Scruggs Law Firm dropped out of it.

Backstrom's objections begin at the bottom of page 24 of the deposition. State Farm said that no privilege existed.

"Even if a privilege existed, which one does not, it was waived by the presence of third persons at the Rigsbys' meetings with the SKG," the motion says. "Even if a privilege existed, it was vitiated by the crime fraud exception."

State Farm also moved to compel the Rigsbys to produce certain documents, such as calendars, diaries and dayplanners that include references to their employment with Renfroe, State Farm and/or the SKG from Aug. 2005 to the present.

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