NEW YORK - Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's office says it is pretty sure it is no longer employing attorney Timothy Balducci, who recently pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe a state judge.
Balducci was the special assistant attorney general who signed the State of Mississippi's complaint against Eli Lilly, maker of the anti-psychotic prescription drug Zyprexa. Eli Lilly is alleged to have downplayed the side effects of taking the drug.
The complaint was filed July 24, 2006, in Lafayette County Circuit Court. In December of that year, Balducci, who donated $2,500 to Hood's campaign in 2003, left The Langston Law Firm.
"Our contracts have been with the Langston Law Firm, not directly with Timothy Balducci," Hood said. "His only involvement with our office is in whatever tasks he was assigned by his employer."
Balducci and business partner Steven Patterson were hit with a federal grand jury indictment last month, along with prominent trial lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, his son Zach Scruggs and attorney Sidney Backstrom, all of the Scruggs Law Firm.
The indictment said the five conspired to bribe Lafayette Circuit Judge Henry Lackey with $40,000 to compel arbitration in a $26.5 million attorneys fees suit. Balducci pleaded guilty last week and is cooperating with investigators.
Documents in the Eli Lilly case show that Joey Langston and William Quin of The Langston Law Firm are now putting their signatures on documents instead of Balducci. Quin and Langston are also Scruggs' defense attorneys, and Langston's office was searched this week by the FBI.
"The Langston law firm is handling the state's case against Eli Lilly, and they will continue to do so," said Geoffrey Morgan, chief of Hood's staff, according to a report in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. "To the best of my knowledge, Tim Balducci has not handled any part of the Eli Lilly case since Dec. 1, 2006, when he left the Langston firm."
While at The Langston Law Firm, Balducci also represented the State in its case against MCI that resulted in $14 million in attorneys fees.
Bailey Perrin Bailey of Houston is also representing Mississippi and several other states in the litigation against Eli Lilly. It and The Langston Law Firm argued that the case should be remanded to Lafayette Circuit Court.
Judge Jack Weinstein called their argument "brilliant" but still refused remand, claiming the case is essentially the same as those filed by West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw and outgoing Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti. Eli Lilly's attorneys did not oppose remand.