A good FOB (friend of the blog) sent me a great story last week from the Wall Street Journal about a civil case brought against Purdue Pharma L.P. over spiraling legal costs incurred by the drug company in defending nearly 1,400 lawsuits over Oxycontin, the company’s prescription painkiller. I’ve been saving it for the right day, which is now, because I’m traveling.
Here’s the money graph: (as a former newspaper reporter, I know cool newspaper slang like saying "graph" for "paragraph")
"Though squabbles over insurance aren’t uncommon, this case went to extremes. Steadfast, based in Schaumburg, Ill., alleges that privately held Purdue hired 40 law firms in 32 states to fight the OxyContin claims. Purdue’s legal team includes 322 partners, 849 associates and 1,023 paralegals, Steadfast says. All told, they billed the company for more than 1.2 million hours of work, Steadfast alleges."
The total bill: more than $400 million in defense costs. The insured and the policyholder reportedly compromised at $200 million. The WSJ site is subscription only, so I can’t provide a link to the story, but here’s the next best thing: a link to the WSJ legal blog.
Here’s some more stuff you should know: most newspaper reporters hate lawyers (really, who doesn’t?), so stories like this one are very fun for reporters to write. I wrote a number of stories attacking lawyers myself (reporters always refer to what they write as "stories," never "articles"). One of my favorites was a story where I made fun of a federal judge who wanted the General Services Administration to buy land worth a couple million bucks in downtown Phoenix for a new courthouse rather than accept a free site from the city about six blocks away. His reason: the expensive site was closer to where all the lawyers were. Now, of course, I’ve seen the light and I would never make fun of a judge, especially if he wants to locate the courthouse closer to my office.