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Lawyers Create Big Paydays by Coaxing Attorneys General to Sue

In no place has the contingency-fee practice flourished more than in Mississippi, where lawyers hired by Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, have collected $57.5 million in fees during the last two years — three times as much as Mr. Hood has spent on running his state office during the same period.

Mr. Hood has taken in $395,000 in campaign contributions from trial law firms over the last decade, more than any other attorney general.

In one case, a senior partner at the Houston-based firm Bailey Peavy Bailey donated $125,000 to Mr. Hood after the firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state against Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical company, litigation that in 2010 generated a $3.7 million payment to the outside lawyers. Mr. Hood has now signed a second contract with the firm, to sue the drug company Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Mr. Hood’s office rejected any suggestion that the contracts are given out in exchange for donations. “Whether or not an individual makes a campaign contribution during an election cycle has no bearing on any decisions made by the office of attorney general or its career attorneys who adhere to the highest standards of professionalism,” the office said in a statement.

Over all, plaintiffs’ firms have donated at least $9.8 million directly to state attorneys general and political groups related to attorneys general over the last decade, according to an analysis of campaign finance data by The Times, with more than 76 percent of that money going to Democrats.

New York Times

Posted December 19, 2014 - 8:38 am

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