We think it's a fair request.

When a person suing you claims being damaged by what you did, there needs to be evidence of that damage -- proof that what's claimed to have happened, actually did.

Of course, when the person suing is the state of West Virginia the supposed damages and proof get considerably more grand.

But not more complicated.

Accused by Attorney General Darrell McGraw of defrauding our state Medicaid program -- allegedly mislabeling the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa -- pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly asked him to prove the who and how.

If the state was due millions because thousands of West Virginians were injured by Eli Lilly's misdeeds, as McGraw alleged, then surely he could provide the court with records showing as much?

Or surely not, cried the private lawyers McGraw appointed to sue Eli Lilly.

Prove it? Bah! This is Darrell McGraw you're dealing with and he doesn't have to. That seemed to be the gist of their response, after the company asked to see the Medicaid files supporting the claim of damages. Eli Lilly also wanted to talk with the West Virginia doctors who alleged being misled by the medicine labeling.

The records are stored far away in distant Utah, McGraw's legal eagles explained. And there are so many files that they estimated it would cost too much to collect the evidence -- $261,000 to pay lawyers $126.57 an hour for 2,066 hours of routine record work.

Indeed, these cost estimates are ridiculous. Why spend $126 per hour for basic computer work? Lawyers would, particularly private ones hoping their smokescreen exaggerations might trigger a ruling in their favor.

Other alternatives would include having taxpayers pay this big discovery bill or McGraw's lawyers paying it themselves. It's the least they could do if this case were about justice for wronged West Virginians, one would think.

But some cases are more about the money.

Pressed by Eli Lilly to provide evidence, the McGraw lawyers punted. They dropped the "Medicaid damages" claims and now say they only want "civil penalties" imposed against the company. Those penalties emerge from hard negotiations that some say involve a fair amount of bullying, threats and counter-threats.

That's more the Darrell McGraw way -- and it's never been more clear.

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