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. 

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.

 

 

Research

The ILR Research Review

December 18, 2014 | The second issue of 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.

Lawsuit Ecosystem II: New Targets, Trends and Players

December 04, 2014 | This report, authored by a distinguished group of practitioners, explores the evolving lawsuit "ecosystem." It considers how plaintiffs' lawyers generate litigation and significant developments that will spur more lawsuits or rein in excessive liability.

All Results for State Attorneys General

Grand Jury to Recommend Charges of Perjury, Obstruction Against Pennsylvania AG

January 22, 2015 | Insights

Court records made public yesterday show that a grand jury has recommended charges of perjury and obstruction be brought against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania AG To Face Criminal Charges, Says Philly Newspaper

January 09, 2015 | Insights

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a grand jury is recommending criminal charges against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. Read More »

Tags: Legal Ethics, State Attorneys General, Pennsylvania

WSJ Highlights Case of Federal "Prosecutorial Abuse"

January 06, 2015 | Insights

The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes today that the federal government has, for years, "been hiding potentially exculpatory evidence involving former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg" which the feds won't allow Greenberg to make public. Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, New York

Mississippi Columnist Highlights AG Hood's Plaintiff Lawyer Partnerships

January 05, 2015 | Insights

Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger columnist Sid Salter highlights a recent New York Times piece, which lists Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's "as one of the nation's primary examples among state attorneys general of what the newspaper identified as a 'partnership' between 'plaintiffs' lawyers with state attorneys general to sue companies." Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Legal Ethics, Lawsuit Abuse Impact, Mississippi

Google Sues Mississippi AG, Causing Him to Call 'Time Out' in His Probe of Google

December 19, 2014 | Insights

Why has Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood called a "time out" in his probe of Google? Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Mississippi

NY Times: 'Lawyers Create Big Paydays by Coaxing Attorneys General to Sue'

December 19, 2014 | Insights

New York Times journalist Eric Lipton today investigates the "flourishing industry that pairs plaintiffs' lawyers with state attorneys general to sue companies." Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Legal Ethics

The ILR Research Review

Author: Institute for Legal Reform | December 18, 2014 | Research

The second issue of 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: Class Actions Around the Globe, False Claims Act, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Foreign Judgment Enforcement, Lawsuit Abuse Impact, State Attorneys General, State Legal Reforms

Lawsuit Ecosystem II: New Targets, Trends and Players

Author: Victor E. Schwartz & Cary Silverman, Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP | December 04, 2014 | Research

This report, authored by a distinguished group of practitioners, explores the evolving lawsuit "ecosystem." It considers how plaintiffs' lawyers generate litigation and significant developments that will spur more lawsuits or rein in excessive liability. Read More »

Tags: State Legal Reforms, State Attorneys General, Securities Litigation Reform, Lawsuit Abuse Impact, False Claims Act, Class Actions, Asbestos

In The News Today - October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014 | Insights

A recent class action lawsuit against Red Bull "illustrates a new trend about which consumer product businesses need to be aware." Read More »

Tags: Class Actions, State Attorneys General

Unprincipled Prosecution: Abuse of Power and Profiteering in the New 'Litigation Swarm'

Author: Andrew J. Pincus, Mayer Brown LLP | October 21, 2014 | Research

This paper addresses the swarm litigation model of duplicative investigations and legal actions by government enforcement officials and the plaintiffs' bar. Corporate defendants faced with gargantuan monetary claims and the prospects of multi-year, multi-front litigation have little choice but settlement, regardless of the merits. Read More »

Tags: State Legal Reforms, State Attorneys General

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