Judge rules Scruggs, others not racketeers

JACKSON – A federal judge dismissed a 2009 lawsuit against former Oxford attorney Richard Scruggs and others, saying the allegations do not rise to the level of a federal racketeering violation.
U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett ordered an end to the claims by Gulf Coast attorneys Lee Young and Charles J. Mikhail, who insisted they were owed more than $1.4 million in legal fees for their work on national tobacco case settlements.
Other defendants were attorneys W. Steven Bozeman, Hayden S. Dent and Samuel M. Millette Jr. and their legal association, SMBD Inc.
Young and Mikhail also claimed part of their fees were paid by Scruggs to then-Booneville attorney Joey Langston to compensate Ed Peters for improperly influencing then-Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter of Hinds County, who was presiding over another legal fees case.
Starrett permanently dismissed Young and Mikhail’s racketeering claims, saying they do not allege “any threat of ‘future criminal conduct'” beyond a few months, which is not what Congress had in mind when it established such a crime.
With dismissal of the federal racketeering claims, Starrett said the court declines jurisdiction over their other claims, which should be refiled in state court.
The judge also denied a defense motion to dismiss because they claimed Scruggs was not properly served notice of the lawsuit. The court acknowledged that ultimately he was served in a Kentucky federal prison.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal