Those class action lawyers who have a penchant for filing questionable lawsuits are becoming the target of growing citizen criticism for a reason: they see the courts as a means to help themselves rather than their clients.
We've long accused our attorney general, "Quick Draw" Darrell McGraw, of taking that self-serving tact -- claiming to be working on West Virginians' behalf when the real goal seems to be winning spoils for himself.
So it was appropriate this week when a group of pharmacies in McGraw's cross-hairs asked the court to brand our attorney general as a class action lawyer.
McGraw has accused Rite-Aid, CVS, Walgreen's, Walmart, Kmart, Kroger, and Target of overcharging for generic drugs and violating state consumer protection law. He filed suit in lawsuit-friendly Boone County despite the fact that of the seven chains, Kroger was the only one to have an outlet there.
McGraw's intended victims got the case removed to federal district court, but the case was remanded back to Boone County. Now the pharmacies are appealing that decision to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the class-action nature of the case necessitates its being heard in federal court
If the Appeals Court accepts that argument and takes the case, old Quick Draw is not likely to fare well.
The two private firms he hired to pursue the case have contributed mightily to his campaign fund over the years. One of the firms had similar suits dismissed in Michigan and Minnesota. The Minnesota judge described the complaint as "not only laughable, [but] absolutely reprehensible."
McGraw's complaint could provoke a similar reaction from the Fourth Circuit. 2011 needs to keep getting better.