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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 "'alleged activity of a criminal nature against both of the Scruggses,' according to a motion filed Friday by an attorney representing Richard and Zach Scruggs," both of whom "invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer the questions, the motion said." Scruggs and son "want to prevent their sworn testimony in [the] Hurricane Katrina lawsuit from becoming public and 'undermining the presumption of innocence' if they face criminal charges in the future" -- that is to say, separate and distinct charges from those in the bribery scheme under which they are already headed to prison. More at Y'allPolitics here and here.

Excerpts from the questions State Farm lawyers unsuccessfully sought to ask Scruggs can be found in the comments at Y'allPolitics, and are truly eye-popping:

Q. And you knew that the Rigsbys -- one of the Rigsbys had stolen this document out of the State Farm file, and based on that information, you informed Attorney General Hood that he could subpoena those records from State Farm and the company would never be able to produce them; isn't that a fact?

Q. You did tell Attorney General Hood to subpoena this document from State Farm knowing that it had been removed from their files and could not be produced; isn't that a fact?

Q. And, in fact, that's exactly what occurred, isn't it? General Hood subpoenaed the document, State Farm couldn't produce it, and you were able to report to the press that they were shredding or deep sixing or destroying evidence that you knew they didn't have; isn't that a fact?

Q. That was part of a program which you euphemistically called the play book from tobacco, wasn't it?

Of course, we don't know what answers Scruggs would have given had he not taken the Fifth -- maybe he would have had innocent explanations for everything. More on the Mississippi AG connection here. For questions about Scruggs's skillful manipulation of ABC News and CBS News coverage, which allegedly included sending the networks copies of documents which were under seal in court proceedings and not to be disclosed, see excerpts here, here, and here. What did ABC and CBS know, and when did they know it?

Meanwhile, on another front, State Farm has filed with a court a couple of depositions given by co-workers of renegade insurance adjusters Cori and Kerri Rigsby. Anita Lee in the Sun-Herald has the story. David Rossmiller has a long, meandering, cruelly funny post on the Rigsbys and their lost illusions. "You'll be heroes," they told co-workers they tried to recruit for the scheme. "We are going to get a book deal. We're going to make a movie. ...We're going to be famous." After all, hadn't most of those things happened for Scruggs's paid informant/spy in the tobacco caper? Kerri Rigsby "wanted Sandra Bullock to portray her in the movie." Another apparently important name in the Rigsby saga, whose name has not much surfaced in news coverage before now, seems to be that of the sisters' mother, Pat Lobrano, who it is suggested helped the initially reluctant Cori overcome her misgivings, recalling inevitably to mind the Mama Rose character in the musical Gypsy.

Rossmiller also provides the following paraphrase of piquant matter to be found in the deposition of co-worker Dana Lee:

[Lee] talks about the supposed meeting Scruggs had with a State Farm "insider" in Bloomington [Illinois, the insurer's headquarters town], 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.

Also discussed: the purportedly "Dickensian" associations of the law firm name of Provost Umphrey, which must surely owe something to Uriah Heep's protestations of being an "umble person" living in an "umble abode".

P.S. I had skipped reading the deposition of Zach Scruggs on the mistaken assumption it wouldn't contain anything newsworthy, but quite the contrary: one of State Farm's lines of questioning seeks to develop the theme that former Sen. Trent Lott (who of course wasn't present during the questions and, unlike Zach, hasn't invoked the Fifth) acted improperly in the litigation. The AP's Holbrook Mohr has details.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.