Arkansas AG's lawsuit could deliver $90m jackpot for TX lawyers

Rob Luke Sep. 25, 2007, 5:52am

Mike Perrin

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has handed over work on what could be a $600 million lawsuit against three "Big Pharma" companies to a Texas law firm.

McDaniel said Sept. 21 that he chose Houston-based Bailey Perrin Bailey to represent the state in a suit against Eli Lilly, Janssen Pharmaceutica and Astra Zeneca from a field of five applicants. He told lawmakers he picked BPB because it had similar experience in other states.

According to the firm's Web site, Bailey Perrin Bailey LLP's practice spans a full range of personal injury and civil related lawsuits.

"As its lawyers have done in the past, the Firm continues to represent thousands of clients in various mass torts in virtually every state against some of the largest corporate defendants in the world," the BPB site states.

Partner Ken Bailey spent 10 years in the firm Williams Bailey LLP in Houston. Prior to Williams Bailey, Ken Bailey practiced at Provost Umphrey in Beaumont from 1983 - 1994.

"At Provost Umphrey, Ken represented numerous unions in their personal injury cases and settled two major class actions, the Wanda Jenkins Class action 1986 and Cimino Class Action 1991, resulting in favorable settlements for his clients," the site said.

Mike Perrin worked at King & Spalding, Fisher, Gallagher, Perrin & Lewis, and Vinson & Elkins in Houston, as well as running his own law firm, before joining Bailey Perrin Bailey.

The Arkansas suit alleges the three pharmaceutical companies illegally marketed anti-anxiety drugs that later caused side-effects in patients who should not have been taking them. McDaniel is now the ninth state AG to sue Lilly for this so-called "off-label" marketing of its blockbuster drug Zyprexa.

McDaniel told the Arkansas Legislative Council that BPB will cover all costs in the case and receive 15 percent of any award. The case is "so large that frankly the AG's office could not handle it internally," he said. "If [the suit] is not successful we don't owe a dollar."

The Arkansas Medicaid program has spent $200 million on prescriptions for such drugs over the past eight years, McDaniel charged. State law allows for treble damages if such suits succeed.

McDaniel's announcement came a few days after the American Tort Reform Association urged state attorneys-general to adopt a voluntary "transparency code" when hiring private attorneys, LNL reported. The group wants to make such contracts biddable and reviewable as well as more transparent and accountable.

But McDaniel also said Arkansas wouldn't join a 30-state investigation of off-label marketing of anti-anxiety drugs across the industry.

Janssen's drug is called Risperdal while Astra Zeneca's is named Seroquel.

Marilyn Tennissen of the Southeast Texas Record contributed to this article.

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