Over the weekend, a story in Governing Magazine looks at the current state of state and municipal litigation matters against opioid manufacturers.
In the story, MS Attorney General Jim Hood recounts the story of an intern who was addicted to opioids that eventually overdosed tragically.
A few paragraphs later, the story telegraphed a criminal threat from Hood.
“If we get into those emails and executives are in the chain knowing what they’ve unleashed on the American public, I’m going to kick it over to a criminal lawsuit,” says Hood. “I’ve been to too many funerals.”
The state of Mississippi is being represented by none other than former Attorney General (and “resolution counsel” extraordinaire) Mike Moore. He stands to make tens of millions and maybe more from this litigation. The ability for hand-in-glove coordinated efforts for criminal prosecutions of civil targets is untold leverage.
Mississippi has been here before. A lot. From the award winning Y’all Politics Memory Division, recall that the same cast of characters was involved in litigation of State Farm after Hurricane Katrina. According to sworn testimony, Jim Hood was quoted as saying “If they don’t settle with us, I’m going to indict them all, from Ed Rust (CEO of State Farm) down.” State Farm eventually did settle, but wound up suing Jim Hood in federal court and winning unconditionally. Y’all Politics and other media outlets intervened in the lawsuit to get a copy of the settlement. Hood fought that disclosure, but eventually, sunshine prevailed.
The result of this kind of madness was that judges, lawyers and even assistant attorneys general went to prison. The same tactics were used in the tobacco litigation, State Farm and now opioids.
There’s a massive conflict of interest in being able to criminally prosecute the same person that you are suing in civil court. Mississippi, the larger media and particularly it’s last two Attorneys General don’t seem to have learned that lesson. Millions of dollars can help blur vision. But Mississippi will have an opportunity again to fix this at the ballot box in 2019.