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

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

ILR Report Identifies New Lawsuit Trends, Key Lawsuit 'Players' and Examines Growing AG-Plaintiffs' Bar Alliances

January 29, 2014 | Insights

What are the new trends in American litigation? Where are opportunistic plaintiffs' lawyers prospecting for lawsuit gold? Why are some state attorneys general cozying up to the plaintiffs' bar? Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Securities Litigation Reform, False Claims Act, Class Actions, Asbestos

In the News Today - January 10, 2014

January 10, 2014 | Insights

A California judge has approved a $1.15 billion public nuisance award against three paint companies. Read More »

Tags: Environmental Litigation, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, State Attorneys General, California, Louisiana

In the News Today - December 18, 2013

December 18, 2013 | Insights

The Associated Press quoted ILR president Lisa Rickard on a California decision ordering three paint companies to pay $1.1 billion. "This ruling opens the flood gates for a surge of frivolous lawsuits and sets a dangerous precedent for other activist courts across the country to follow," she cautions. Read More »

Tags: Environmental Litigation, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, State Attorneys General, California, Mississippi

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