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.

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. read more...

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. 

Six states—Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa and Mississippi—have passed “sunshine” legislation to create an open process of hiring outside contingency fee counsel. These measures 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 New Lawsuit Ecosystem: Trends, Targets and Players

October 23, 2013 | Authored by a distinguished group of practitioners, this report examines the developing lawsuit "ecosystem" and areas of litigation of most concern to the business community.

Privatizing Public Enforcement: The Legal, Ethical and Due-Process Implications of Contingency-Fee Arrangements in the Public Sector

September 03, 2013 | A growing area of concern in civil litigation is the proliferation of arrangements under which state attorneys general ('AGs') hire outside counsel on a contingency fee basis to represent the state in civil litigation.

All Results for State Attorneys General

Two Utah AGs Indicted On Multiple Counts After Receiving Payments, Gifts

July 16, 2014 | Insights

Two former Utah attorneys general, Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow, were indicted on multiple counts of bribery, tampering with evidence and obstructing justice. Read More »

Tags: Legal Ethics, State Attorneys General, Utah

Florida AG Moves to Assert Control over State False Claims Act Claims

June 16, 2014 | Insights

In a positive step forward that would empower states to diminish frivolous False Claims Act cases, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office is arguing that "it has the authority to dismiss a False Claims Act suit brought against Motorola Inc. [which] it deemed frivolous, saying it does not need approval from the relator who filed suit." Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, False Claims Act, Class Actions, Florida

New Orleans Media Highlights Passage of Louisiana AG Transparency Bill

June 09, 2014 | Insights

WWLTV News (New Orleans) reports on the Louisiana legislature's passage of a bill that effectively bars the use of outside contingency fee counsel by the state attorney general. Read More »

Tags: Legal Ethics, State Attorneys General, Louisiana

In the News Today - March 19, 2014

March 19, 2014 | Insights

Nobody wins when state officials deputize trial lawyers. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, State Attorneys General, Illinois

The Problem with Frequent Filers

March 12, 2014 | Insights

It's time to put some limits on class-action frequent filers says a Washington Examiner editorial. Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Securities Litigation Reform

In the News Today - March 11, 2014

March 11, 2014 | Insights

The Wisconsin state Senate is scheduled to vote on a bill that would require plaintiffs to disclose additional information regarding their asbestos litigation. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, State Attorneys General, Louisiana, Wisconsin

The Securities Class Action Lords

March 10, 2014 | Insights

Lost in last week's flurry of activity surrounding the Halliburton argument before the Supreme Court was a key question: who is bringing these suits and why? Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Securities Litigation Reform, Legal Ethics, Class Actions

Lender Settles Nevada AG's Suit

February 18, 2014 | Insights

Lender Processing Services has agreed to pay $6 million to settle a lawsuit by the Nevada Attorney General that accuses it of "robosigning" mortgage documents. Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Nevada

Judge Sanctions Nevada AG

February 04, 2014 | Insights

A Nevada judge has taken the unusual step of sanctioning the state attorney general in her case against Lender Processing Services Inc. and ordered the state to pay legal and discovery costs for the defendant. Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Nevada

In the News Today - February 3, 2014

February 03, 2014 | Insights

The Louisiana Supreme Court overturned a $258 million verdict against Janssen Pharmaceutical. Read More »

Tags: False Claims Act, Securities Litigation Reform, State Attorneys General, Delaware, Louisiana

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