Mississippi had two big wins recently in civil litigation headed by Attorney General Jim Hood.

Mississippi Recover $8.1 Million in Tobacco Litigation

A couple of weeks ago, Jackson County Chancery Judge Jaye Bradley ordered R.J. Reynolds to pay the State over $8.1 million based on the company under paying the State in money owed from the 1997 tobacco settlement. Here is the Clarion-Ledger article on the State’s win.   

Can you believe it? A tobacco company lied about cigarettes. What’s the world coming to?

 Meanwhile, General Hood’s opponent in the November A.G. election criticizes Hood’s use of out-of-state lawyers in A.G. litigation:

His opponent in this fall’s election, Steve Simpson, has criticized Hood for selecting law firms to represent the state without independent oversight.

"If elected, I will ask the Legislature to establish a procedure to review the reasonableness of the contingency fees after an application by the law firm," Simpson said in a statement. "I believe that our law firms in Mississippi are some of the best in the country and will ask that these firms be given preferential treatment when outside counsel is required."

So who were these lawyers who Hood hired for the recent tobacco litigation? The Ledger reports:

The state’s legal team was headed by Lee Young, who worked on the original tobacco settlement, Hood said.

So where is this “Lee Young” from? Oh, Pascagoula. Granted that’s in Mississippi, but barely.

Assisting Young on the tobacco case were Matthew Mestayer of Biloxi and Charles Mikhail of Moss Point.

Mississippi Recovers $38 Million in Drug Litigation

Wednesday’s Clarion-Ledger reports that the State is recovering $38 million from Sandoz, Inc. for inflating wholesale prices of prescription drugs:

Judge Thomas Zebert awarded Mississippi $23,661,618 in compensatory damages, $11,830,809 in punitive damages and $2,699,000 in penalties, for a total of $38,191,427.

In addition, the court entered an injunction on Sandoz reporting false average wholesale prices to Mississippi, the release stated.

"Sandoz, with its greed for more profits, caused Mississippi to overpay on drug prescriptions and some of our neediest citizens were being denied health care due to cost overruns," Hood said in the release.

Representing Mississippi in the drug litigation was Ronnie Musgrove (name sounds familiar) of the Copeland Cook law firm in Ridgeland. The only odd thing about that is that Copeland Cook is a large insurance defense firm.

My Take:

In a two week period Jim Hood recovered $46 million for the State. And he did it with Mississippi lawyers. This was probably not the best two weeks for the Simpson campaign. 

The problem that Republicans have in unseating Jim Hood is that Hood seems to be doing a credible job as A.G. I agree with Simpson that Mississippi lawyers should get preferential treatment when outside counsel is needed. But it’s not like Hood only uses out-of-state lawyers. Mississippi lawyers are sprinkled in even on the cases where out-of-state lawyers are used. I just don’t see Simpson getting much traction with this criticism of Hood.