Group takes exception to contracts by King to outside law firms for contingency fees

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dear editor,

Recently, a Montgomery County court awarded $215 million in damages to the State of Alabama. The enormous verdict was the result of the first of about 70 cases Attorney General Troy King has brought against pharmaceutical companies.

Following the verdict, King said &8220;a grave injustice has been righted.&8221;

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The real injustice occurred even before the case began. King had already decided to give 14 percent to private sector trial lawyers.

Many feel the state should have received the entire $215 million, but about $25 million would now go to wealthy personal injury lawyers at the law firms of Beasley/Allen and Hand/Arendall.

Many feel King should&8217;ve tried the case with his in-house lawyers our taxes are paying. If the charges are so heinously true, the state attorney general&8217;s office should&8217;ve been able to win in a walkover.

Instead, King signed a &8220;contingency fee&8221; contract, offering private lawyers a substantial portion of any award or settlement and there is nothing you or I could have done to stop it. You and I didn&8217;t know about it until it was a done deal.

By law, the attorney general must have contracts reviewed by a legislative committee, but that is far more form than function. The committee cannot really stop such a contract, and millions of dollars that should go to roads and schools is promised to trial lawyers.

Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse has asked for simple and common sense, self-imposed ethics by Attorney Gen. King, and Gov. Bob Riley. It&8217;s just good government. So far, no.

Kerry Kelley

Board of Directors

Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse