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Another trial, another plaintiff’s verdict. On Tuesday, a Montgomery County jury ruled in favor of the State of Alabama against German-based pharmaceutical company, Sandoz Inc. in the amount of $78.4 million. Fellow InjuryBoard member, Beasley Allen, represented the State.

This is the third verdict obtained by Beasley Allen against pharmaceutical companies for overcharging the State Medicaid program from 1991 to 2005. The other verdicts were against AstraZeneca ($215 million), Glaxo-SmithKline ($81 million), and Novartis ($33 million). Of course, all of these verdicts are either being appealed or are going to be appealed to the Supreme Court of Alabama.

It seems as though almost every significant verdict obtained by a plaintiff these days is certain to be appealed. In fact, this has become part of settlement negotiations. How? During mediation or settlement discussions, defendant attorneys always mention the fact that even if a large verdict is obtained, we will appeal the case, drag out the time for payment, and likely win the appeal. Is that what our appellate system is for? How can they threaten this?

Well, every appellate court judge in Alabama is Republican, save our Chief Justice, Sue Bell Cobb. Does that matter? It shouldn’t, but unfortunately, a majority of the business community supports Republican candidates, and a majority of trial lawyers support Democratic candidates. Contrary to popular belief, we see who is winning that race. Whether the appellate judges rule for business interests a majority of the time because that is the correct legal decision or because their allegiance lies with that side is known only to the judge making the decision. However, there is a strong appearance of a conflict given our system and the rulings over the last few years.

Is this they way the system should work? What do you think? Let us know. Post your comments to this blog.

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