JACKSON – Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood on Thursday signed over to the state $40 million he obtained as a result of a lawsuit settlement with Microsoft.
The settlement, which was announced in early June, provided additional funds that helped the Legislature and Gov. Haley Barbour finally reach a budget agreement.
It was the second time Hood announced a lawsuit settlement in the midst of a budget impasse. In 2005, a $100 million settlement with MCI helped to break that budget logjam.
“This money comes at a great time for our state,” Hood said. “It has been deposited into the state’s general fund to be used as the Legislature deems necessary.”
The current lawsuit was an offshoot of the federal lawsuit from the 1990s. Microsoft was accused of violating antitrust laws by packaging its software in a way that prevented it from being compatible with the software of its competitors.
Like with the MCI settlement, there is controversy over whether the Legislature must approve agreed-upon fees for private attorneys who helped the attorney general. That issue is currently pending in court thanks to a lawsuit filed by then-state Auditor and current Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant.
Hood said the Microsoft case was brought to him by Jackson attorney Brent Hazard, with whom he contracted to pursue the lawsuit. Hazard also associated firms from New York and Houston, Texas.
Hood said the three firms would be awarded about $8 million by Microsoft – separate from the state settlement. He said the firms spent more than $2 million in pursuit of the lawsuit and would have received nothing if they had not been successful.
Hood said his office did not have the resources to pursue the case without outside legal counsel and expertise. He said Hazard donated $250 to him at one time, but did not think the out-of-state firms had donated to his campaigns.
The total amount of the lawsuit settlement with Microsoft might reach $100 million with $60 million going to local governments and private consumers. More information about the lawsuit can be obtained at agjimhood.com.
Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal