Attorney General Hood's Latest Lawsuit About Compensating Lawyers, Not Homeowners

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June 13, 2007

Washington, D.C.- U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform President Lisa A. Rickard released the following statement in reaction to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's lawsuit against State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. related to an agreement for a mass settlement of claims over Hurricane Katrina damage.

"This latest lawsuit by the Mississippi attorney general has little to do with compensating Mississippi homeowners for their Katrina losses, and more to do with plaintiffs' lawyers getting their cut of the compensation money.

"Mr. Hood agreed to a settlement with State Farm last year, but when the Scruggs Katrina Group of plaintiffs – led by famed trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs – withdrew their settlement offer, the Mississippi Insurance Department brokered an agreement between homeowners and the insurer, effectively cutting out Hood and his trial lawyer friends from the deal.

"Mr. Hood deputized three outside plaintiffs' trial lawyers in this most recent case. The combined total campaign contributions of these lawyers and their law firms to Mr. Hood's last campaign was nearly $70,000, according to publicly available campaign finance records.

"With this newest lawsuit, the bottom line is not whether the people of Mississippi will get fair compensation on their losses, it is whether or not the state attorney general can subvert a fair process in order to give trial lawyers a cut-ultimately at the expense of Mississippi homeowners."

The mission of the Institute for Legal Reform is to make America's legal system simpler, fairer, and faster for everyone. It seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.