Monday, July 10, 2006

Tom Reilly Is Too Dumb To Be Governor

Boston Globe: Reilly won't sue over lead paint

In 1999, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly turned down pleas to join a Rhode Island lawsuit that resulted in a historic jury verdict earlier this year that could require paint companies to spend an estimated $1 billion or more to rid about 300,000 Ocean State homes of lead contamination.

Now Reilly is rejecting entreaties that he follow Rhode Island's victory with a similar suit against the paint industry, which sold lead pigment until the 1970s despite allegedly knowing for decades it was toxic, according to four advocates interviewed by the Globe who have met with Reilly's deputies to urge them to sue.


Reilly's rationale: Massachusetts law makes such a suit difficult, and he feels stung by the outcome of the 1998 tobacco industry settlement that won the state $8.3 billion, but embroiled him in an ugly battle with several law firms over their legal fees, people who attended the meetings said.

Reilly's top aides said the attorney general is reluctant to work with private law firms again, the advocates said. And since his office does not have the resources to take on the paint industry alone, he will not pursue litigation on his own, these people said.


Reilly's unwillingness to sue, according to Torres, Lawrence, Rabin, and Andelman, stems in part from the divisive court battle that resulted when the Boston law firm Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels and a San Francisco firm sued for an additional $1.3 billion in legal fees for their work on the state's landmark tobacco settlement. Reilly's predecessor, Scott Harshbarger, had agreed to pay the firms a 25 percent contingency fee for handling the case.

But after the tobacco industry paid the 50 states $246 billion to settle the lawsuit, an arbitration panel voted to award Massachusetts lawyers $775 million, or 9.3 percent of the state's $8.3 billion share. Claiming breach of contract, Brown Rudnick sued, spurring heated public debate .

Even though the law firms ultimately lost their fight, ``the AG's office has basically sworn off ever using private counsel again," Lawrence said....

Tom Reilly is an idiot. The firms who sued the state for more money for the tobacco settlement were (1) an out-of-state firm from San Francisco; and (2) Brown, Rudnick, a Boston DEFENSE firm that the state hired (as well as several plaintiff's firms), probably because of all its political connections. The real plaintiff's law firms who represented the state, experienced in mass tort litigation, didn't sue the state afterwards. The smart reaction of a smart politician would be to vow never again to hire a defense firm to do plaintiff work.

The state got $8.3 billion out of the tobacco lawsuit, and Reilly's nose is so out-of-joint about Brown, Rudnick's lawsuit (that Reilly WON) that he won't even try to put more money from guilty corporations back into state coffers. Nice call, genius. No wonder he's in danger of finishing third in the Democratic race for the nomination for governor.

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