Private attorneys get $4M in Utah settlement

By John O'Brien | Nov 13, 2009


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Legal Newsline) - Private attorneys hired by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to sue Eli Lilly & Co. will receive more than $4 million from Wednesday's settlement.

The $24 million is the most the State has ever recovered from a pharmaceutical company, and attorneys from Steele & Biggs are getting $3.6 million in attorneys fees and $475,066.92 in reimbursement, according to Eli Lilly spokesperson Marni Lemons.

Shurtleff's office did not return a message seeking a copy of the settlement.

Steele & Biggs is a part of Siegfried & Jensen, which has donated to Shurtleff's campaign over the years.

The firm has donated $58,000 to Shurtleff and hired his daughter to work as a paralegal on Zyprexa and Vioxx cases. Shurtleff's daughter only worked for the firm for less than a year, quitting to give birth and spend time with her child.

The suit alleged off-label marketing of the antipsychotic Zyprexa, as well as weight gain-related side effects like hypertension and diabetes.

Of the 12 states that did not settle their claims against Eli Lilly in a 33-state, $62-million agreement, Connecticut settled for $25.1 million, West Virginia settled for more than $22 million ($6.75 went to outside counsel hired by state Attorney General Darrell McGraw), Idaho settled its case for $13 million ($2.5 went to outside counsel) and South Carolina settled for $45 million (more than $6.5 million went to outside counsel).

The firm representing South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster's office had contributed to his campaign, but he returned the funds.

Eli Lilly has paid $1.4 billion to settle federal civil and criminal claims stemming from alleged off-label marketing.

The payment also benefited the Medicaid programs of more than 30 states that collectively received approximately $362 million.

Seven states still have claims pending against Eli Lilly. Most of them have reached tentative settlement agreements.

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

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