WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said Wednesday that he does not regret his decision not to use private attorneys in the State's lawsuit against BP over the 2010 oil spill.
Strange spoke about the oil spill case Wednesday at the 13th Legal Reform Summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. On her first day in office in 2011, Strange said he met with the law firm hired by predecessor Troy King and decided the case would be hired by attorneys on his staff.
"No offense to a very good law firm," Strange said. "I made the decision - it was an easy decision for me knowing the talent in office - to handle it in-house."
King, a Republican bested by Strange in the 2010 primary, had hired Beasley Allen of Montgomery and Prince Glover & Hayes of Tuscaloosa. The attorneys would work on a contingency fee and receive 14 percent of what Alabama recovered.
Handing it in-house meant keeping that 14 percent.
"That's a significant amount of savings for taxpayers," Strange said.
A January trial is scheduled for remaining claims. Private claimants have already settled with BP, which also had a compensation fund administered by Kenneth Feinberg.
An explosion and fire occurred on Transocean's drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, licensed to BP, on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and resulting in the largest offshore spill in U.S. history.
The lawsuits that resulted were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation proceeding before Judge Carl Barbier in a federal court in New Orleans. Strange said Wednesday that "books will be written" about the case.
Beasley Allen was also hired by King to sue 73 pharmaceutical companies over the average wholesale prices of their drugs. The lawsuits have netted millions of dollars in settlements, but the state Supreme Court has struck down verdicts finding the companies liable.
The firm contributed $760,000 to political action committees that spent $240,000 on King's campaign, a 2011 report from the Manhattan Institute found.
The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform owns Legal Newsline.
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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