Two added to settlement talks in Zyprexa cases

John O'Brien May 5, 2009, 2:00pm


NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - A federal judge wants two more states to get busy settling their lawsuits against Eli Lilly & Co.

U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein added Idaho and Minnesota to the list of states to be watched by special master Michael Rozen, who is overseeing settlement talks in cases brought by states involving the company's prescription anti-psychotic Zyprexa.

Weinstein wrote that federal courts and state courts must coordinate on similar cases. States with suits pending in state courts are Arkansas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Utah.

"As a matter of comity and pursuant to national judicial policy promoting cooperation between federal and state courts dealing with closely related litigations, the Special Settlement Master is now authorized and encouraged to help coordinate the work of this court with that of state courts before which related attorney general cases are now pending," Weinstein wrote.

Idaho's and Minnesota's suits are now before Weinstein, who is also presiding over suits brought by Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, New Mexico, Montana and Connecticut.

In October, Weinstein told those six states to take a month off from litigating and try to work out a settlement.

Eli Lilly paid $62 million to 32 states and the District of Columbia to resolve claims that the company marketed Zyprexa for off-label uses. The attorneys general also argued Zyprexa caused weight gain that resulted in diabetes in users, harming their respective states' Medicaid programs.

It was the largest consumer protection-based multi-state settlement with a pharmaceutical company, but 12 states chose not to participate.

Instead, the 12 attorneys general are asking for a total exceeding $1 billion, according to court documents.

"While most states have settled their cases against Lilly for a few million dollars each, the states with cases now pending in this court -- Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico and West Virginia -- are seeking, on essentially the same theories and evidence, many billions of dollars in damages in fines," Weinstein wrote.

Bailey Perrin Bailey of Houston is representing Mississippi. The firm donated $50,000 to state Attorney General Jim Hood in 2007.

Other firms and lawyers representing attorneys general in the federal case include:

-Bill Robins of Heard, Robins, Cloud & Lubel, who donated $10,000 to New Mexico Attorney General Gary King's campaign in 2006.

-Morrow, Morrow, Ryan & Bassett of Opelousas, La., which donated $7,500 to Charles Foti from 2003-07, when he lost his bid for re-election, then donated $5,000 to now-Attorney General Buddy Caldwell;

-Kenneth DeJean of Lafayette, La., who donated $5,500 to Foti before giving $1,000 to Caldwell last year;

-Robert Salim of Natchitoches, La., who donated $1,000 to Caldwell last year;

-W. Howard Gunn and Associates of Aberdeen, Miss., which donated $2,500 to Hood before the 2007 election;

-William Quin of The Quin Firm in Jackson, Miss., who donated $3,000 to Hood while employed at Lundy & Davis in 2005; and

-Troy Giatras, whose political action committee Equal Justice gave $1,000 to McGraw in 2004.

Rozen, of The Feinberg Group, helped negotiate asbestos settlements in the 1990s.

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