The Arkansas Supreme Court today declined a petition to reconsider its decision that gutted a $1.2 billion-dollar Medicaid fraud judgment against Johnson and Johnson and a subsidiary pharmaceutical company for off-label use of the anti-psychotic medication Risperdal.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel had asked for a rehearing. He contended the court had reversed years of precedent on statutory interpretation. The court dismissed the meat of the case, over Medicaid fraud, which accounted for most of the damages. It sent back to the trial court a claim of deceptive trade practices with the court holding 4-3 that some of the evidence on that count was inadmissible hearsay. The court also reversed an attorney fee award.
The court split 4-3 in denying a rehearing. The same three justices — Chief Justice Jim Hannah and Justices Donald Corbin and Paul Danielson — had dissented on the hearsay finding in the original decision.
In an interview with Roby Brock for airing this weekend, McDaniel blasted the decision and said it will create headaches for virtually every future lawsuit. He said it will require lawyers to research original acts and the version put in law books after technical reviews by the Code Revision Commission. The court concluded the commission substantially the law when it was prepared for law books 21 years ago. Now, he says, lawyers can’t trust what they read in the statute books.
And then McDaniel got personal:
“The Arkansas Supreme Court has the reputation of being a results-oriented court. They get whatever result they want when they craft the law to match what they want done,” McDaniel said. “In this case, they came up with something that no one even argued. It undercuts the credibility of our court and it completely takes away from the Attorney General the ability to ever go after a drug manufacturer no matter what they did or how guilty they are. In this case, the drug manufacturer pleaded guilty to a federal felony and paid $2.2 billion in fines and I’m told we’re never allowed to prosecute them or anyone else.”