We have already told you about how Steve Simpson admits that he is lazy in reading the fine print and doesn’t understand how mortgages work. He is an attorney, remember. We have already told you with an income of $138,000+ he still couldn’t pay his property taxes on time, but could afford a 42 foot boat.
Simpson has no real pension or trust experience, little complex litigation experience, and limited commercial experience. Most of his experience has been in criminal matters. (Ironic?)
So how did Simpson get the job? He was appointed in by an outsourced judge (called a special master.) Outsourced judges are brought in when matters are so complex that it would completely overwhelm one judge, or sometimes because the judge is extremely lazy. That Special Master was Britt Singletary. We’ll come back to Singletary in a minute. Continue reading
Just one day after Breland Hilburn issued an order saying he will not hold a recusal hearing nor recuse, he reverses course and recuses in the Denham & Barton cases.
Attorney Harvey Barton says that he is not satisfied and will continue to seek Hilburn’s removal in all the cases.
We are awaiting an order from the court and will post details as they become available.
With all of the responses in to the Mississippi Supreme Court, it’s time to start sorting out what exactly happened. The responses are lacking, but we endeavor to distill truth and fact from what has been presented to the Court. They have a tremendous undertaking before them.
We first wish to understand the sequence of events at the meeting. There are two different versions of this. Judge Hilburn’s story follows the pattern A – B – C while almost everyone else follows the pattern A – C – B. The below statements are verbatim excerpts from each response; we have only removed sentences or phrases that were not pertinent to the sequence of events.
- A – I immediately told them there would be no discussion of any state court matters.
- B – I inquired as to the status of the federal court litigation;
- C – I told those present they would not need to appear at the Jackson County Courthouse the next day, that I had prepared an email temporarily staying the state court litigation and canceling the hearing scheduled at 9:00 the next day.
Sessoms & Williams:
- A – Judge Hilburn subsequently arrived, and again it was mentioned that there would be no discussion about the Chancery Court cases.
- B – Plaintiffs’ Counsel, Jim Reeves, who represents clients in the Jones litigation, but not in the Almond litigation […] discussed the Jones Federal Court litigation.
- C -Judge Hilburn announced he was staying all proceedings pending the Federal Court litigation. He also said that he was cancelling the hearing set for 9:00 AM the next day.
Incredibly, Sessoms & Williams response differs from their earlier response to the Court on behalf of SRHS. In that version, Judge Hilburn announced the stay at the beginning of the meeting and not at the end. It appears Sessoms & Williams sequence of events changed after having the benefit of Judge Hilburn’s statement. See below. Continue reading
In reading the responses to the Miss. Supreme Court, the phrase “missing the forest for the trees” springs to mind. It seems that all parties involved have become so focused on the competing federal and chancery cases, they forget the underlying and undeniable facts. Subsequent to the ex parte hearing, six separate orders were entered in the Almond and Lay cases. These are orders that were a result of action taken at the January 12 meeting.
- Order Granting Motion to Intervene by Special Fiduciary
- Order Authorizing Special Fiduciary Trustee to Enter into Settlement and Release
- Order Authorizing Payment of Special Fiduciary Fees
- Order Approving Invoice for Payment by Parties
- Order Approving Fees and Expenses of Charles J. Mikhail
- E-mail order staying all cases and cancelling hearings
These are facts that are not in dispute. Some lawyers are now making claims which fly in the face of facts and the record of the court. Continue reading
The Mississippi Supreme Court today ordered Judge Breland Hilburn to explain his reasoning for entering a stay in the Almond case. Judge Hilburn has until noon Wednesday to file his response.
Filing responses today were former SRHS Trustee Scott Taylor, SRHS attorneys Kelly Sessoms and Brett Williams, and Jackson County attorney Billy Guice.
The responses of Special Master Britt Singletary, Special Fiduciary Steve Simpson, along with plaintiffs’ attorneys Jim Reeves and Matt Mestayer are due tomorrow.
Order to Judge Hilburn
Response of Billy Guice
Response of Sessoms & Williams
Response of Scott Taylor
Billy Guice entered Singletary’s office at 2:26 p.m. Guice is alone with Singletary for 52 minutes until 3:18 p.m. when Scott Taylor arrives.
- 2:26 Billy Guice arrives
- 3:18 Scott Taylor arrives
- 3:24 Jim Reeves & Matt Mestayer arrive
- 3:27 Kelly Sessoms & Brett Williams arrive
- 3:28 Breland Hilburn arrives
- 3:37 Steve Simpson arrives
- 4:04 Everyone begins to leave
- Billy Guice represents a non-party to the Lay case
- Billy Guice represents a defendant in the Almond case
- Singletary is Special Master in the Almond Case
- Billy Guice was in Singletary’s office 52 minutes before the next party, Scott Taylor, arrived
- Scott Taylor sits on the board of SRHS, also a defendant in the Almond case
If counsel for non-parties to Lay were invited to this conference, surely counsel for KPMG would have been as well. Maybe someone at Brunini or Sutherland can inform us.
Attorneys Harvey Barton and Earl Denham have filed a motion with the Mississippi Supreme Court asking for an emergency hearing on their cases in the Singing River pension matter.
Barton and Denham point to video of a secret meeting by the judges in the case and attorneys from SRHS and for other plaintiffs.
The motion alleges a secret meeting was held at Special Master Britt Singletary’s Biloxi office. The meeting concluded less than an hour before Judge Hilburn issued orders on several motions before canceling hearings scheduled the next day. Hilburn has put an indefinite pause in place on all of his cases related to SRHS. A motion asking Hilburn and Singletary to recuse was still pending when Hilburn ordered the pause.
Attendees of the Tuesday, January 12, 2015 meeting are alleged to include:
- Judge Breland Hilburn
- Special Master Britt Singletary
- Special Fiduciary Steve Simpson
- Brett Williams, attorney for SRHS
- Kelly Sessoms, attorney for SRHS
- Scott Taylor, SRHS trustee and also a licensed attorney
- Billy Guice, special counsel for the Jackson County Board of Supervisors
- Jim Reeves, attorney for one group of plaintiffs
- Matt Mestayer, partner with Jim Reeves, attorney for plaintiffs
Reeves, Guice, and attorneys for SRHS have recently signed a settlement agreement which seeks to stop all litigation against Singing River.
Barton and Denham’s motion asks the court to:
- Allow the cases to continue
- Remove Judge Breland Hilburn from overseeing the cases
- Remove Britt Singletary as special master in the cases
- Remove Steve Simpson as special fiduciary
- Remove Dogan & Wilkinson, Brett Williams and Kelly Sessoms from representing SRHS
- Remove Jim Reeves and Matt Mestayer from representing anyone in connection to the case
- Remove Scott Taylor from his position as a trustee of SRHS
- Appoint a new judge to oversee the cases
SRHS Watch will update this story as more information comes available.
Read the 57 page motion here.
“I am most proud of the fact that, as part of the settlement, retirees who worked hard for their benefits will not have to pay any fees or expenses for the recovery of their pension,” Reeves said.
Excerpt from press release of Reeves & Mestayer
Doug Walker repeated the statement nearly verbatim in the lead up to his interview with attorney Jim Reeves. While those statements don’t tell the whole story they are certainly true. Under the agreement reached by Reeves and Billy Guice, retirees will not have to pay attorneys’ fees or expenses directly, because the taxpayers of Jackson County will likely do so. Continue reading
Do not just read headlines, read the details.
The devil lies in the details.
nothing is set in stone. yet.
THERE IS NO MONEY AVAILABLE NOW, AND NO GUARANTEE THERE WILL BE.
Some of the legalese and concepts may be difficult to follow and understand. Please consult with someone you trust and is knowledgeable on these matters.
The proposed settlement by Singing River Health System is just that PROPOSED. Several media outlets and attorneys are portraying the settlement as a “done deal.” It is not. There is simply an agreement between some players, who are asking the District Judge Louis Guirola to approve and order EVERYONE to comply with.
What is true: Jim Reeves, who represents one group of plaintiffs, has signed a settlement agreement with attorneys for SRHS, its trustees, Mike Crews, Chris Anderson, and Stephanie Barnes Taylor. Billy Guice has also signed the agreement on behalf of Jackson County. Jackson County was never sued by Reeves. Special Fiduciary Steve Simpson is expected to sign once he receives approval in Jackson County Chancery Court.
What is contained in the settlement?
SRHS is agreeing to pay $149 million over the next 35 years. This is simply a payment plan. THERE IS NO GUARANTEE OF PAYMENT.
The settlement also provides that anyone who participates will forever give up any claim they might have against any SRHS entity or employee, its trustees, Chris Anderson, Mike Crews, Stephanie Barnes Taylor, and Jackson County. Remember, Jackson County was never named in this suit. Continue reading
Trustee Steve Simpson has hired attorney Charles J. Mikhail to represent the interests of the pension trust in settlement negotiations. An order signed by Judge Breland Hilburn allows Simpson to hire Mikhail, who will be paid $225 per hour for his services.
Like many of the players involved, Mikhail appears to have conflicts which are tough to resolve. He is required to represent the interests of the pension trust and all of its members, yet his connections with certain plaintiffs counsel is unsettling.
Mikhail previously worked on tobacco litigation for Dick Scruggs. When Scruggs started shortchanging Mikhail on payments, Mikhail sued. The lawyers he hired to sue Scruggs? Jim Reeves and Matt Mestayer.
Cal Mayo, who is also suing Singing River, defended Scruggs in the suit.