WSJ Decries ‘Mississippi Tort Mob’ and State AG’s Effort to Hit BP ‘Gusher’
Posted Jul 28, 2010 8:08 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The Wall Street Journal editorial page is no friend of Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.
An editorial today decries Hood's efforts to change federal law so he can sue oil spill companies in state court. The newspaper uses recently released e-mails in Hurricane Katrina litigation to illustrate his links to the “Mississippi tort mob.”
The e-mails came from a public relations firm advising trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe a judge in an unrelated case in 2008. The e-mails revealed Hood’s displeasure over a 2007 Wall Street Journal editorial that criticized Hood and Scruggs for using a “tag-team” approach involving “purloined” documents to extract a $130 million settlement in Katrina insurance litigation.
Hood had written a draft response to the 2007 column and sent it out for comment to 18 individuals, many of them trial lawyers, the Wall Street Journal says. Scruggs ended up forwarding the draft to his public relations firm. Says the Wall Street Journal, “It turns out that Mr. Hood was so tight with the Mississippi tort mob that he turned to them for help to refute our arguments that he was … in bed with the Mississippi tort mob.”
The editorial saw a link to Hood’s efforts to change federal laws directing litigation against oil companies into federal court. “Mississippi is famed for its jackpot justice, and as the e-mails reveal, Mr. Hood and his cabal work together to squeeze settlements from their targets,” the editorial says. “As with the Katrina litigation, the Pascagoula lawsuit society is hoping for the mother of all jackpots against Big Oil. If the AG can keep this litigation at home, he can use the powers of his office to work with this crew to hit another gusher.”