Kentucky Supreme Court: Legal fees OK in Purdue Pharma case

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) —

Kentucky's Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Andy Beshear properly paid a law firm $4.2 million in legal fees for helping the state settle a lawsuit against opioid-maker Purdue Pharma when he was attorney general.

The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Beshear, a Democrat, rightfully paid the Louisville law firm, now called Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, for its legal services in 2016, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin challenged the fees in 2017, arguing that the firm’s contract with the attorney general had already expired by the time they were paid.

The court ruled Thursday that the General Assembly's 2016 state budget, which Bevin signed, approved the payment, and did not contain “any condition, exception or qualification of its order to pay the Purdue Pharma attorney’s fees and costs."

The legal fees stemmed from a $24 million settlement with the maker of the pain reliever OxyContin. It was reached by Democratic former Attorney General Jack Conway at the end of 2015 over lawsuits accusing Purdue of misleading the public about the addictiveness of the powerful prescription drug.

State officials said Purdue's marketing led to a wave of addiction and increased medical costs across the state, particularly in eastern Kentucky where many injured coal miners were prescribed the drug.