State Personnel Board approves MDHS request for new legal counsel in TANF litigation

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 6:27 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Thursday brought new developments in the Mississippi Department of Human Service’s TANF case.

DHS appeals to the State Personnel Board to hire a new law firm to take over ongoing litigation after ousting Brad Pigott.

Mississippi Department of Human Services Executive Director Bob Anderson appealed to the State Personnel Board Thursday to accept his recommendation for the law firm to replace Brad Pigott whose one-year contract was allowed to expire.

Pigott was working to recover up to $24 million dollars in misspent or stolen federal welfare dollars when he was terminated last month.

Anderson told the board he spoke with two firms before choosing the Jones Walker Law Firm. He said the firm, formerly Watkins, Ludlam, Winter, and Stennis, has tremendous experience with complex commercial litigation.

“We’re receiving discovery you know each and every day,” Anderson told the State Personnel Board. “There are motions that are on the docket as well and that’s why we come to you. And we’re just two weeks out three weeks out of Mr. Pigott’s service, and we’d like to continue the representation without too much lapse.”

The board approved the recommendation to pay Jones Walker $400,000.00. The DHS executive director said hundreds of thousands of documents in electronic form are being collected and will be transmitted to the firm.

“We have attorneys that vetted it in-house that looked at it and it did comply with state law and policy,” said State Personnel Board Executive Director Kelly Hardwick. “So it was not controversial from that standpoint. It was in line with many of the contracts that we deal with on a monthly basis.”

Hardwick said the Attorney General approved the hiring of the firm. The Jones Walker contract runs from August 19, 2022, through July 2023.

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