In this session, John Uustal interviews author Curtis Wilkie on his book, The Fall of the House of Zeus tells the story of Dickie Scruggs, arguably the most successful plaintiff’s lawyer in America. A brother-in-law of Trent Lott, the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader,
Scruggs made a fortune taking on mass tort lawsuits against “Big Tobacco” and the asbestos industries. He was hailed by Newsweek as a latter-day Robin Hood, and portrayed in the movie, The Insider, as a dapper aviator-lawyer. Scruggs’ legal triumphs rewarded him lavishly, and his success emboldened both his career maneuvering and his influence in Southern politics–but at a terrible cost, culminating in his spectacular fall, when he was convicted for conspiring to bribe a Mississippi state judge.
Curtis Wilkie is an American journalist, college professor, and historian of the American South. He is a Fellow of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi and author of numerous books.
Historian Douglas Brinkley has written that “Over the past four decades no reporter has critiqued the American South with such evocative sensitivity and bedrock honesty as Curtis Wilkie.”
Wilkie spent two years researching court records and conducting some 200 personal interviews for his book, The Fall of the House of Zeus: The Rise and Ruin of America’s Most Powerful Trial Lawyer.