OXFORD, Miss. - A state judge ruled Tuesday that the actions of indicted trial lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs apply to the rest of the firms that made up the former Scruggs Katrina Group.
Circuit Judge R. Kenneth Coleman made the decision during a hearing in an attorneys fees dispute between those firms and Jackson attorney John Griffin Jones, who claimed Scruggs shortchanged him out of his fair share of at least $26.5 million in fees earned in Katrina cases.
Federal prosecutors have indicted Scruggs and four others on charges that they conspired to bribe the case's previous presiding judge, Henry Lackey, with $40,000 for a ruling compelling arbitration. Coleman's decision means any judgment made with regard to Scruggs' actions will affect the rest of his former business partners.
"The Court is of the opinion that the action of one is the action of all in this matter," Coleman said.
The sides were preparing a written order to submit to Coleman at 1:15 p.m. Coleman also ruled that arbitration in the case will not take place anytime soon, but he did not grant a motion to strike all the pleadings. Instead, another hearing will be scheduled to address that issue.
Coleman also ruled that the Court does have the authority to impose sanctions on Scruggs' side, which includes the firms Nutt & McAllister, Barrett Law Office and Lovelace Law Firm. Those three have renamed themselves the Katrina Litigation Group now that Scruggs has dropped all his Katrina cases.
Coleman said that during the alleged attempted bribery of Lackey, the "case was still in the judicial arena."