A man who remains somewhat of a mystery, former Delta farmer P.L. Blake, is also part of the mix. The Scruggs team earned around $1 billion suing tobacco companies, and although Scruggs has fought sharing his fees in this and other cases with some attorneys, he had no qualms about agreeing to pay Blake $50 million over 20 years for work that led to a multistate settlement of tobacco litigation.
Litigation against Big Tobacco in the mid to late 90s was a legal and political minefield. Scruggs and Moore have said Blake had an inside track on the politics. Blake has explained he simply clipped newspaper articles, watched C-SPAN and tried to gauge the political winds for Scruggs.
Patterson's attorney, Hiram Eastland Jr., 57, said as a young boy he frequently encountered the older Blake on the Eastland plantation in Doddsville. Eastland described Blake as a quiet and gentlemanly fellow, always with a crisp crease in his khakis.
Former Gov. J.P. Coleman thought of Blake as a son, Eastland said. Eastland's father, Hiram "Chester" Sr., and Chester Eastland's first cousin, powerful U.S. Sen. James O. Eastland, were friends to Blake. Young Hiram Jr. said his father and the senator didn't drink coffee, but kept a pot brewing on the plantation for Blake's visits.
Blake also happens to be close friends not only with Scruggs, but with Steve Patterson, a fellow horse-breeding enthusiast. Scruggs and Patterson trust Blake implicitly, court records show.
Monday, May 18, 2009
The Sun Herald has an article by Anita Lee on January 21, 2008 telling us a bit more about PL Blake: