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State Farm Seeks Trial Lawyer’s Ouster

Posted Jun 20, 2007 1:41 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. maintains high-profile trial lawyer Richard Scruggs violated ethics rules and should be removed from at least one case seeking coverage for homeowners' Hurricane Katrina claims.

In a filing yesterday with the federal court in Gulfport, Miss., the insurer says Scruggs relied on stolen documents in a suit filed on behalf of two homeowners, the Sun Herald reports.

Two women obtained the documents while working for a company hired by State Farm to handle Katrina claims, the motion says (PDF posted by the Sun Herald). Scruggs and his law firm are now paying the two women, who are sisters, $150,000 a year to serve as trial consultants, according to the motion.

State Farm said its retained ethics expert, law professor Charles Wolfram, believes Scruggs’ conduct warrants disqualification of Scruggs and his law firm.

Scruggs told the Sun Herald the motion is part of a “public relations offensive” by the company.

“We've been kicking their fannies for two or three months now,” he said. “It tells you you're being effective when they try these sorts of shenanigans."

Scruggs told Bloomberg News he was approached by the sisters for representation "because they were concerned about what they were involved in."

Last week a federal judge in another case asked prosecutors to charge Scruggs with contempt for giving the confidential documents to the Mississippi attorney general.

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