AVALA: King got too cozy with trial lawyers

By John O'Brien | Jun 7, 2010


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - An Alabama civil justice reform group says outgoing Attorney General Troy King turned his back on conservatives by partnering with trial lawyers.

Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse said Monday that King, who fell in the Republican primary against Luther Strange last week, was harmed by taking the wrong side in a dispute over electronic bingo machines.

"While King did some good things for the conservative side while in office, he increasingly cozied up to trial lawyers like lawsuit kingpin Jere Beasley," said Skip Tucker, executive director of AVALA.

"King's partnership with Beasley in state-sponsored lawsuits against pharmaceutical industries drained AVALA confidence in him, and the lawsuits failed in lower and appellate courts, sapping even more public support.

"It was a boondoggle of disastrous proportion for King."

King hired Beasley to sue more than 70 pharmaceutical companies. State Medicaid agencies reimburse providers based on an estimated cost, like an average wholesale price. King, as well as other state attorneys general, claimed drug makers did not include discounts and rebates in their list prices for drugs, and the state used the list price to reimburse the provider.

Jury verdicts against AstraZeneca, Novartis Pharmaceutical and GlaxoSmithKline resulted in awards of $215 million, $33 million and $80.9 million, respectively.

The AstraZeneca verdict was eventually reduced to $160 million. However, the state Supreme Court overturned all three last year, and two others failed in lower courts.

"It also became increasingly clear that the King-Beasley match was poltitical, too," Tucker said.

"Beasley is part owner of the Alabama Democratic Party and King was willing to swap pay-for-play lawsuits for Beasley support. And it did not take far sight to understand that the Beasley firm was the inside favorite for state-sponsored lawsuits in regard to the BP oil spill."

Beasley's firm has already filed several class action lawsuits over the BP spill.

The mostly conservative state Supreme Court dealt another blow to King before the election.

Its unanimous ruling allowed Gov. Bob Riley's task force to challenge the legality of Lowndes County's White Hall Entertainment Center's electronic bingo games, regardless of King's approval or disapproval.

Tucker called it "the worst possible time" for King.

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

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