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-one states—Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West 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. Companies are also fighting back against AGs hiring outside counsel in court. 

 

 

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All Results for State Attorneys General

  1. Is a New York Law School Implanting Activists in Attorneys General Offices?

    October 10, 2018 | News

    A RealClearInvestigations report shows that a New York University School of Law program may be sending agenda-driven lawyers to attorneys general offices around the country. ... Read More

  2. Law Firm Hosting Fundraiser For Kentucky AG Who Hired Them

    October 01, 2018 | News

    National plaintiffs' firm Morgan and Morgan will host a fundraiser for Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, Legal Newsline reports. The firm landed a contract from his office to represent the state in litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors. ... Read More

  3. "ILR at 20": ILR President Rickard Sits Down With Corporate Counsel

    June 26, 2018 | News

    This week, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) is celebrating its 20th anniversary. ILR President Lisa A. Rickard sat for a question-and-answer discussion with Corporate Counsel on the development of the legal landscape during the first 20 years of ILR.... Read More

  4. Missouri Furthers Legal Reform Progress with Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting

    June 07, 2018 | Blogs

    In an important victory for the integrity of Missouri's civil justice system, embattled former Gov. Eric Greitens signed one of the strongest Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TIPAC) bills in the nation on his last day in office.... Read More

  5. ILR's Quigley: Private Lawyer-Led Contingency Fee Lawsuits from Localities Create In-State "Tension"

    March 22, 2018 | News

    U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform executive Bryan Quigley said the rise of contingency fee lawsuits being filed by private lawyers on behalf of counties and cities will create "tension" between localities and state attorneys general.... Read More

  6. Kentucky Chalks Up Two Legal Reform Wins in March

    March 20, 2018 | Blogs

    The University of Kentucky Wildcats are making a strong showing in March Madness, and so is the state legislature. Over the past few weeks, Kentucky has passed two major milestones in legal reform: ensuring transparency in private attorney contracting (TIPAC), and protecting physician peer-review.... Read More

  7. The Great Myths of State False Claims Acts

    February 28, 2018 | Research

    The 2018 update to "Great Myths of State False Claims Acts" shows that the whistleblowers' bar is continuing to capitalize on state qui tam False Claims Acts (FCAs), harvesting windfall awards from states and the federal government. The paper also points out that the dubious benefits of implementing a state FCA turn into a clear financial net negative when states allow their FCAs to fall out of compliance with federal standards.... Read More

  8. The Trial Lawyers Behind the Climate Litigation Racket

    February 13, 2018 | News

    In essence, plaintiff firms are devising new theories, such as "climate crime," and using government-backed cases to test these theories in court, in the hopes of raking in billions.... Read More

  9. "Tort Lawyers and Attorneys General: A Corruptible Combination"

    February 09, 2018 | News

    A RealClearMarkets commentary said the "gambit" of private plaintiffs' attorneys who sue on behalf of state and local governments "appears to be backfiring."... Read More

  10. Top 10 Legal Reform Research Topics of 2017

    January 11, 2018 | News

    Review ILR's wide-ranging top ten legal reform research topics from 2017 and gain insights for 2018.... Read More