The Mississippi Department of Human Services Thursday announced it has received approval to hire the Jones Walker law firm to move forward with the civil litigation portion of attempting to recover Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF funds, from 38 parties named as defendants in a pending lawsuit.
Jones Walker replaces former U.S. Attorney Brad Pigott, whose contract was terminated by MDHS. Pigott has claimed politics were involved in the action, but MDHS has said it had chosen to move on from Pigott as it tries to recover about $24 million in misspent or stolen federal welfare dollars meant for poor families in Mississippi.
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch had already approved the proposed contract with Jones Walker.
“This litigation must go forward to accomplish our stated goal of recovering and returning to the taxpayers the millions of dollars in misspent TANF funds,” said Bob Anderson, Executive Director of MDHS. “MDHS has selected Jones Walker, a firm of some 370 attorneys with offices and professionals in eight states and the District of Columbia, to continue with this important litigation. After talking with a number of firms, many of whom had conflicts with taking on this work, we selected Jones Walker because they are, in our view, the firm best suited to handle this matter and move it forward by continuing to evaluate claims against additional parties, written discovery, depositions, trial, and appeal, if necessary.”
Kaytie Pickett and Adam Stone, who will lead the Jones Walker team representing MDHS, focus their practices on complex commercial litigation and have handled high-profile, challenging, and large commercial cases in a number of states.
“While Brad Pigott initiated and prepared the original complaint in this case, we believe that Jones Walker is who we need to finish the process of getting to final judgment and recovery of funds. They have a deep bench and are well acquainted with complex electronic discovery platforms, which will be crucial in a case like this involving hundreds and thousands of documents. We look forward to working with the team at Jones Walker,” Anderson concluded.
In reacting to the decision announced Thursday, Gov. Tate Reeves said, They will vigorously pursue this case—wherever it leads. They will eagerly cooperate with those criminal investigators whose mission is to get truth and justice for the misconduct that occurred during the previous administration. And they will leave no stone unturned in the effort to recover misspent TANF funds.
Reeves promised the litigation work will continue vigorously, as he put it, to continue to get the funds returned for as long as it takes, even years, the governor said.