Sun Herald’s Geoff Pender reviews Kings of Tort
Book: ‘I’ll take care of it’ sinks Scruggs
Geoff Pender - Sun Herald
With five words, “I’ll take care of it,” famed asbestos- and tobacco-suing billionaire Mississippi lawyer Dickie Scruggs was “transformed into a felon,” say authors Alan Lange and Tom Dawson in “Kings of Tort,” a nonfiction book set for release on Dec. 2.
The book’s subtitle is ambitious: “The true story of Dickie Scruggs, Paul Minor, and two decades of political and legal manipulation in Mississippi.”
And it is among several — both published and planned, fiction and nonfiction — that attempt to explain the phenomenon that began in the Magnolia State with rural juries and sometimes-questionable judges awarding huge settlements to what would become the state’s mega-wealthy, jet-setting trial lawyer elite. It ended, it would appear, with Scruggs, fellow lawyers including Minor and three judges being sentenced to prison for bribery.
“Kings of Tort” isn’t sensationalized, doesn’t contain any real bombshells and Lange and Dawson don’t claim to have broken much new ground in the “sordid tale of judicial bribery and political intrigue” that has been covered extensively by state and national media for years. But the book is concise, easy to read and explains complex legal and political maneuvers in a way that laypeople can easily follow.
The book, and an accompanying Web site that provides access to all the legal and media sources used, also marks perhaps the best compendium of fact to date on the sordid tale.