New senator steps down from law practice, McGraw case

By John O'Brien | Jul 28, 2010



CHARLESTON -- Now that he's sworn in as a U.S. senator, Carte Goodwin has to temporarily leave his family's law firm and bow out of a lawsuit brought by West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw.

Goodwin was representing Kmart in a lawsuit brought by McGraw that alleges a group of prescription drug retailers did not pass on savings on generic drugs to consumers. He was sworn in to the U.S. Senate July 20 to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd after being appointed by Gov. Joe Manchin.

U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver granted Goodwin's motion to withdraw as counsel on Friday.

The Senate Code of Official Conduct prohibits a senator from "affiliat[ing] with a firm ... for the purpose of providing professional services for compensation."

The two sides are arguing over whether the suit should be remanded to state court, as a similar lawsuit was. The private attorneys McGraw hired to represent the State filed a notice of supplemental authority July 21.

The notice refers to a Minnesota federal court decision released July 20 that remanded a similar case.

McGraw's lawsuit also names Target, Wal-Mart, CVS, Kroger and Walgreen. Copenhaver has remanded a lawsuit against Rite Aid.

"Inasmuch as Rite Aid has failed to establish a 'substantial and actually disputed' federal issue embedded within the plaintiff's state-law claims, the court declines to find federal question jurisdiction," Copenhaver wrote.

McGraw hired Bailey & Glasser and DiTrapano Barrett & DiPiero to pursue the drug store cases. The two firms have contributed more than $60,000 to McGraw's campaign fund over the years, including $11,800 for his 2008 race against Republican Dan Greear.

A special election is being held this year to find a successor to Byrd who will serve until 2012. Goodwin is not running, but Manchin, a Democrat, is.

Goodwin previously served as Manchin's general counsel.

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

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