New York Times Investigation Features Gary King

Paper probes attorneys general shopping out litigation to private firms

"The lawsuits follow a pattern," writes Times reporter Eric Lipton. "Private lawyers, who scour the news media and public records looking for potential cases in which a state or its consumers have been harmed, approach attorneys general. The attorneys general hire the private firms to do the necessary work, with the understanding that the firms will front most of the cost of the investigation and the litigation. The firms take a fee, typically 20 percent, and the state takes the rest of any money won from the defendants."


, part of an ongoing series, leads with a March 2012 meeting in Washington DC between King and "former attorney general turned plaintiffs' lawyer" Linda Singer, who urges King to "sue the owner of a nursing home in rural New Mexico that Mr. King had never heard of and Ms. Singer had never set foot in."

"She later presented him with a proposed lawsuit that did not cite any specific complaints about care," reports the Times . "What she shared with him were numbers on staffing levels gleaned from records suggesting that residents were being mistreated there and at other facilities.

New Mexico's outgoing Democratic attorney general, who lost a bid for governor in November, defended the contract with the private firm, saying that since it "was covering most of the cost, there was little risk to the state."

The paper reports that "while prospecting for contracts, the private lawyers have also donated tens of thousands of dollars to campaigns of individual attorneys general, as well as party-backed organizations that they run."


in October 2013 that, while running for governor, King's notable donors include Bill Robins, a partner in the Texas-based firm Heard Robins Cloud & Black. King’s office had hired the firm to represent New Mexico in a lawsuit against Eli Lilly that accused the pharmaceutical company of improperly promoting an antipsychotic drug. The state settled with the company for $10.5 million in 2009.

The Times also reports that New Mexico's former Democratic Attorney General Patricia Madrid "has flown around the country with her husband (also a lawyer), acting as a broker to solicit business."


King's term as attorney general is complete at the end of the year. Incoming Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas has been axing longtime staffers,


Albuquerque Journal

. The New York Times put Gary King right at the top of its investigation into "a flourishing industry that pairs plaintiffs’ lawyers with state attorneys general to sue companies."

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