Court sends legal fees lawsuit to arbitration

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – A legal-fees dispute must go to arbitration, as its defendants, The Scruggs Law Firm, asked on appeal in 2010.
The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed a circuit judge’s decision and ordered back to Lafayette County a lawsuit filed by attorney Derek A. Wyatt of Madison.
Wyatt claimed that he was not paid what he was due after legal-firm consortium Katrina Joint Venture settled a massive lawsuit against State Farm Insurance in 2007.
He had worked for KJV group member Nutt amp& McAlister PLLC for three weeks.
The KVJ group, for which The Scruggs Law Firm of Oxford was lead member, agreed when it formed in 2005 that any disputes would be resolved by mandatory binding arbitration.
Thursday’s 6-0 decision said Circuit Judge Edward Prisock was wrong to deny the Scruggs defendants’ motion to send the issues to arbitration.
Justice Michael Randolph’s order says “no external legal constraints” should prevent the issues from going to arbitration.
“We are very pleased” with the result, said Scruggs attorney Cal Mayo of Oxford.
Wyatt sued in 2009, saying that he should have been paid $823,770 of the $106.8 million settlement, instead of the $150,000 he got from Nutt amp& McAlister.
Three Supreme Court justices did not participate in the vote.