State Attorneys General

For the past twenty years, state attorneys general have played an increasingly prominent role in enforcing laws and regulations affecting the business community.  While often appropriate, state AG enforcement can also lead to inconsistent, duplicative and politically motivated enforcement of key laws and regulations. In addition, many state AGs hire outside plaintiffs’ lawyers for these cases, raising questions about conflicts of interest and political favoritism. read more...

Modern state AG litigation began with the lawsuits filed against tobacco companies in the 1990s. These generated billions in state revenue, favorable publicity for state AGs and huge profits for certain plaintiffs’ firms hired by state AGs to conduct the litigation. 

The success of the tobacco litigation has led many AGs to target additional business sectors, particularly in the pharmaceutical and financial services areas. While some cases may be legally appropriate, other state AG actions appear more about enhancing a state AG’s political standing. In addition, businesses face the danger of inconsistent and duplicative enforcement by each of the fifty state AGs as well as numerous federal regulators. This is particularly true in the financial services context, where the Dodd-Frank law grants state AGs the power to enforce regulations issued by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Also problematic is the use of outside contingency fee counsel by many state AGs. This involves state AGs awarding secret, no-bid contingency fee contracts to outside plaintiffs’ lawyers to represent their states in litigation.  As plaintiffs’ lawyers are awarded large contingency fees from successful lawsuits, money may be funneled back into campaign contributions to the AGs.  These alliances raise significant concerns about conflict of interest, favoritism, the use of a public entity for personal gain, and fairness in prosecutions. 

Twenty states— Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin —have passed "sunshine" legislation to create an open process of hiring outside contingency fee counsel. These measures vary, but more recent laws require state attorneys general to disclose their contingency fee contracts, ensure that they maintain control of the litigation and impose reasonable limitations on fee awards to private attorneys. Other attorneys general have adopted office policies that implement many of these reforms.




The ILR Research Review - Volume 2

May 18, 2015 | The ILR Research Review offers valuable insights from our preeminent experts and specialists on key topics addressed in the latest of ILR's research reports.

Enforcement Slush Funds: Funding Federal and State Agencies with Enforcement Proceeds

March 25, 2015 | This paper addresses the growing practice of federal law enforcement officials and state attorneys general using public money generated from litigation settlements for their own use or for their preferred projects and charities.

All Results for State Attorneys General

In the News Today - August 27, 2015

August 27, 2015 | Insights

A Wisconsin personal injury firm has filed its second TCPA class action lawsuit over allegedly unsolicited faxes ... this time against a lawsuit lending firm. (Legal Newsline) Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Class Actions, New York

SEC Won't Penalize Target Over 2013 Cyber-attack; Company Still Faces Actions by State AGs, Private Litigators

August 26, 2015 | Insights

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has decided not to recommend an enforcement action against Target Corp. for the 2013 cyber-attack against the company - but the company still faces actions by numerous state attorneys general and private litigators. Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General

In the News Today - August 7, 2015

August 07, 2015 | Insights

As expected, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was charged yesterday with "illegally leaking confidential information, then lying about it under oath and deploying aides as spies to keep a step ahead of the criminal investigation against her." Governor Tom Wolf immediately called for Kane's resignation - but Kane said she would not quit. (Philadelphia Inquirer) Read More »

Tags: Class Actions, State Attorneys General, Pennsylvania

In the News Today - August 6, 2015

August 06, 2015 | Insights

Montgomery County (PA) District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman is expected today to announce criminal charges against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane over allegations that Kane "leaked secret investigative information to a Philadelphia newspaper to embarrass a political foe." (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, State Tort Reform, Illinois, Pennsylvania

In the News Today - August 4, 2015

August 04, 2015 | Insights

Pollsters fear that the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) recent ruling on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) - which they say left open the definition of "audodialer," creating more confusion than clarity on the law - may run them out of business, and "create a political system where politicians can do whatever they want without knowing what the public thinks." (Huffington Post) Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Telephone Consumer Protection Act , Texas

In The News Today - June 18, 2015

June 18, 2015 | Insights

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai writes that, "the TCPA has become a fertile ground for lawsuit abuse. And unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission is set to give the trial bar another boost later this week." (The Daily Caller) Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Telephone Consumer Protection Act , Louisiana

In the News Today - June 4, 2015

June 04, 2015 | Insights

The political rivalry between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman heated up this week, as Cuomo's legal department submitted a five-page, 22-question survey to state agency general counsels, asking them to evaluate the performance of Schneiderman's office. (New York Times) Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Alabama, New York

Louisiana AG Appoints Political Donor Law Firms in Anti-Trust Case

May 26, 2015 | Insights

Despite legislation enacted last year that placed limits on payments to private attorneys hired by the state, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is "still relying on private attorneys to do the state's work, including those with whom he has political connections," reports Legal Newsline. Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Louisiana

The ILR Research Review - Volume 2

May 18, 2015 | Research

The ILR Research Review offers valuable insights from our preeminent experts and specialists on key topics addressed in the latest of ILR's research reports. Read More »

Tags: Third Party Litigation Funding (TPLF), Telephone Consumer Protection Act , State Legal Reforms, State Attorneys General, Securities Litigation Reform, Medical Liability, Lawsuit Abuse Impact, False Claims Act (FCA), Class Actions Around the Globe, Class Actions

In the News Today - May 15, 2015

May 15, 2015 | Insights

ILR President Lisa A. Rickard commends the House Judiciary Committee for its approval or H.R. 526, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act). The measure prevents asbestos claims double-dipping by requiring bankruptcy trusts to disclose claims requests. (Law360) Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Class Actions, Asbestos, Nevada

  • bulletClick to Narrow Your Results