A Clarion Ledger article about Jim Hood and lawsuits filed by Jim Hood on behalf of the state involving contracts with outside attorneys focuses on the political issue (“pay to play”) to the point of sacrificing telling the story with any clarity. Allowing the story to be framed by the politics of attacking Jim Hood over pay-to-play utterly sacrifices coherence, and, in doing so, the story fails to connect up obvious questions.
The story mentions a lawyer in Texas pursuing a recent drug case:
Bailey, who helped represent Texas in the multi-state lawsuit against Big Tobacco in the 1990s, recently has helped net millions of dollars for five states – including Mississippi – over claims their Medicaid and health insurance programs were overcharged for antipsychotic drugs.
Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. will pay Mississippi $18.5 million – what it spent on Zyprexa, plus some.
But because Bailey and his firm have contributed thousands of dollars to state attorneys general – including $75,000 to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood – a business organization has made him the target of its campaign to shed light on the relationships between elected officials and trial lawyers who sue on behalf of states. ….
Jackson-area attorney Billy Quin, who holds the contract with Hood’s office to represent the state in these cases over antipsychotic drugs, will receive almost $1 million.
Quin said a similar suit against Janssen pharmaceutical company, the maker of Risperdal, is pending in state court in Chickasaw County.
Other states also have filed suits against AstraZeneca, which makes Seroquel. Mississippi has not, Quin said.
Mississippi charged that Eli Lilly promoted Zypreza, approved to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, for off-label uses such as mild depression, and that harmful side effects including weight gain,caused more harm than good.
In settling with Mississippi, Eli Lilly admitted no wrongdoing.
In early 2009, Eli Lilly agreed to pay a $615 million criminal fine after the federal government charged the company with a misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
The contract Quin holds was originally awarded to now-disbarred and jailed attorney Joey Langston. It was Langston, also a large contributor to Hood, who first associated with Bailey’s Texas firm.
Bailey said he got to know Langston as they both fought asbestos-related cases.
Bailey said they coincidently own vacation homes next to one another in the ski-resort community of Telluride, Colo.
“I had the place for several years and next thing I know, I look up and there’s Joey Langston, and I said, ‘What are you doing here?’ How unusual is that?” Bailey said.
Langston pleaded guilty in 2008 to judicial bribery in an unrelated case.
Quin, Langton’s former law partner, said he decided to keep Bailey on board after receiving the contract. From all the state settlements, Bailey said he has earned about $5 million. …
f an attorney brings an idea for a lawsuit to his office, and the case seems worth pursuing, that attorney gets the contract, Hood said. Hood said he does not stipulate with whom that attorney partners.The only exception, Hood said, was when Quin brought the MCI/WorldCom back taxes case to him several years ago.
Hood didn’t know Quin, then a 32-year-old Louisiana resident, so he shopped the case to other lawyers. Hood said Langston, who employed Quin after that case, was the only one who would work with him on the deal.
Hood said he put Langston’s name on the contract because Langston was a campaign donor, and he didn’t want it to hide Langston’s involvement.
Hood said claims that something unethical is going on are misguided. …
Bryant, a Republican, said the Legislature should appropriate attorneys’ fee awards so that there is a money trail.
While serving as auditor, Bryant filed suit in 2006 against The Langston Law Firm related to $14 million in fees paid over the MCI/WorldCom back-taxes deal, which brought in $110 million for the state in 2005.
Current auditor Stacey Pickering took over the fees lawsuit after Bryant was elected lieutenant governor.
A hearing related to the fees is set for Tuesday. A judge will hear arguments over whether $10 million in attorney fees paid in the recent Microsoft deal should remain in a reserve fund while the MCI fees dispute is pending.
Quin said the attorneys work hard, shoulder enormous risk and deserve the money.
“I believe to the core of my being that the funds in the WorldCom case and the Eli Lilly case are not state funds,” Quin said. “The auditor has no business doing what he has done with respect to both the Microsoft fees and the WorldCom fees.”