Yesterday, the MSSC came down with a fascinating decision that shows just how utterly out of control the MS Trial Lawyers’ Association was before tort reform.

You can read the decision here.

The case involves plaintiffs in a Fen-Phen case suing their lawyer (Ed Williamson) over fees calculated in their settlement. The case had received a summary judgement in favor of Williamson in Adams County Circuit Court. However, the MSSC reversed and remanded the case pushing it back to Adams County for a jury trial.

What was most offensive in this was that the plaintiffs had a 2% holdback that was donated directly to the MTLA Political Fund in a “Do you want fries with that?” sort of way. It was an innocuous looking checkbox that wound up funnelling $30,000 to MTLA in just this one case involving a $3,000,000 settlement. This settlement fund for identical litigation disbursed over $50,000,000.

According to the plaintiff as laid out in the decision, Williamson gave them 20 minutes to review the financials involved in the settlement and threated that they might lose the settlement if they didn’t agree to everything in the airport right then and there.

Here’s the breakout.

Client Name: Barthel Waggoner
Attorney(s): Edward Williamson
Settlement Amount: $3,008,961.75
Attorney’s Fee (45%): $1,354,032.79
MDL fees 3%: $90,268.85 4
MTLA Contribution: $30,042.87 5
Expenses:
Miller & Associates (case specific): $ -0-
The Williamson Law Firm (case specific) $15,041.64
Generic Expenses: $47,475.10
Total Expenses: $62,516.74
Net to Client: $1,472,100.50

Here’s the “Do you want fries with that?” political solicitation in their contract.

Authorization for contribution to the Mississippi Trial Lawyers’
Association. I/We recognizing the dedicated efforts of the Mississippi Trial
Lawyers Association in preserving access to justice for injured individuals,
I/We authorize a contribution to the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association in
order to allow full access to justice for those wrongfully injured in the state of
Mississippi.

A contribution in the amount of two percent of my recovery is to be
made directly to the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association, Political Fund.
XX I authorize XX I do not authorize

The purpose of this contribution is the (sic) preserve our system of justice for
others through political activities and educational efforts of the Mississippi
Trial Lawyers Association.

Bada Bing . . . Bada Boom. $30K in MTLA’s pocket from the client to donate to judges . . . all in the name of Justice.

I hope no one is still wondering why we have judicial bribery problems in Mississippi.