Ala. district attorneys at odds with AG King

By John O'Brien | Oct 14, 2009


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - The Alabama District Attorneys Association feels state Attorney General Troy King was wrong to intervene in five lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, and three judges have agreed with it so far.

After King turned down the offer from a group of private lawyers, five district attorneys hired them to bring lawsuits against prescription drug retail stores like CVS and Walgreens. King said only he has the authority to hire outside counsel to represent the State when he moved to intervene in the cases.

Instead, 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 called the suits "extortive." They allege CVS, Rite Aid, Wal-Mart and Walgreens filled prescriptions with generic drugs when doctors had not specifically authorized the use of generics.

"We refused to take action due to a lack of convincing evidence," King said Thursday in his press release.

"The actions by these district attorneys are nothing less than the next step down a path charted by others who have ignored the separation of powers in our Constitution and attempted to usurp the Office of Attorney General.

"These suits are the latest jackpot justice scheme and are primarily designed to enrich the lawyers."

King has not been afraid to hire outside attorneys to represent the State, which he did in order to sue 79 pharmaceutical companies over allegations that they inflated their drugs' prices and harmed the state's Medicaid system.

The two firms on King's pharmaceutical cases have not contributed to King's campaign.

Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse says the State has received nearly $100 million from the cases so far. Of that, $56.7 million have gone to the general fund, $26 million have gone to the attorneys and $17 million is in an escrow account.

King has filed a lawsuit against the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding the amount of money the federal government can claim from Medicaid recovery lawsuits.

Five cases have gone to trial. Three were successful, earning the State judgments of $215 million, $80.9 million and $33.2 million. The defendants have appealed to the state Supreme Court.

King's office did not return a message seeking comment.

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

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