S.C.'s Zyprexa trial off, McMaster returning attorneys' contributions

John O'Brien Oct. 2, 2009, 4:00pm


COLUMBIA, S.C. (Legal Newsline) - South Carolina has settled its Zyprexa lawsuit Eli Lilly & Co., and state Attorney General Henry McMaster said Friday he will return campaign contributions from the two attorneys who worked the case.

Courtroom View Network planned to air the trial online starting Monday, but CVN's David Siegel was told the trial was off and a settlement had been reached. No details were provided, which is not unusual in Zyprexa suits. Only Connecticut and West Virginia have released the terms of their settlements, while seven other states have agreements in place.

Twelve states did not settle their claims against Eli Lilly in a 33-state, $62 million settlement. Connecticut settled for $25.1 million, and West Virginia settled for more than $22 million, with $6.75 going to outside counsel hired by state Attorney General Darrell McGraw.

Eli Lilly promoted Zyprexa for off-label uses, and the drug caused weight gain-related side effects like diabetes and hypertension, it is alleged. The company paid $1.4 billion to settle federal civil and criminal claims, with $362 million going to the Medicaid programs of more than 30 states.

John White of Harrison White Smith & Coggins and John Simmons of Simmons Law Firm both have donated to McMaster's campaigns in the past. McMaster and State Ethics Commissioner investigator Cathy Hazelwood argued over whether it was legal for McMaster to accept the contributions.

Friday, a report by The Associated Press said McMaster plans to give back $32,500 in donations from five lawyers he has hired to work on State lawsuits.

White $2,000 to McMaster in 2008, and Simmons gave McMaster $7,000 ($3,500 in 2006 and 2008). The two, along with Houston-based firm Bailey Perrin Bailey, are representing the State in the Lilly litigation.

Other members of Harrison White who gave to McMaster include: Danny Smith ($2,000 in 2007 and $2,000 in 2008); Ben Harrison ($2,000 in 2007); and Donald Coggins ($3,500 in 2006).

The firm itself gave McMaster $3,500 in both 2006 and 2008.

McMaster is one of five Republicans running for governor in 2010.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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