MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - Alabama Attorney General Troy King wrote in an editorial that the five district attorneys who filed prescription drug pricing lawsuits did so because they were promised a "huge payoff" by the private attorneys they hired.
The Montgomery Adviser published an opinion piece by King Thursday that says businesses won't be safe in his state if 42 district attorneys are allowed to hire private lawyers on a contingency fee to file civil lawsuits against companies.
"Make no mistake, it is a settlement they seek," said King, who moved to dismiss the five lawsuits against CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Wal-Mart.
"They know that it will be so expensive to defend these suits that the defendants are likely to give in to the shakedown. This is extortion by litigation pure and simple and it is wrong."
King declined to hire the attorneys, saying they lacked evidence to bring a lawsuit. He says only an attorney general can hire private lawyers to represent the State.
"These lawsuits were filed not because they had evidence of wrongdoing, but because they had been promised a huge payoff to their offices if they did," King wrote.
He added that Alabama is at risk of "descending into tort hell."
The suits allege CVS, Rite Aid, Wal-Mart and Walgreens filled prescriptions with generic drugs when doctors had not specifically authorized the use of generics.
Three of the judges have denied King's motions to dismiss, while another has scheduled a hearing, said ADAA executive director Randy Hillman.
"Once again, he has chosen to play politics and issue press releases instead of working with those of us who are in the trenches of Alabama's courtrooms every day," Kristi Valls, president of the ADAA, said Tuesday.
"The latest evidence of this is his unwarranted intervention into civil lawsuits filed by several of Alabama's district attorneys. Those district attorneys have a sworn duty to protect the citizens of this state through both civil and criminal prosecutions.
"No one knows the best interests of their respective jurisdictions like the district attorney does."
King said the State needs to be represented by one office.
"No business is safe in a state where lawyers can shop an extortion scheme to 42 local district attorneys, some of whom will surely take the bait," he wrote.
"These suits are the latest reasons that the state must speak with one legal voice - the voice of the elected state attorney general."
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at email@example.com.