State Attorneys General

State attorneys general (AG) play an increasingly prominent role in enforcing laws and regulations affecting the business community. In some instances, AGs engage in inconsistent, duplicative, and politically-motivated actions, often collaborating with contingency fee counsel.Read More...

Modern state AG litigation using private contingency fee counsel began with the lawsuits filed against tobacco companies in the 1990s. The tobacco litigation resulted in billions of dollars in state revenue and as a result led many state AGs to target additional business sectors, such as the pharmaceutical, financial services, and energy industries. Many AGs hire outside plaintiffs’ lawyers for cases, raising questions about conflicts of interest and political favoritism. This provides outside counsel the incentive to seek large damages and obtain significant attorney’s fees.

ILR works with AGs to help adopt rational enforcement policies and engage in productive ways with the business community. Supporting policies aimed at reining in over-enforcement, limiting the hiring of contingency fee counsel by state AGs, and exposing abuses, reflect the core mission of ILR’s state AG program.


Suggested Resources

  • Mitigating Municipality Litigation: Scope and Solutions

    Mitigating Municipality Litigation: Scope and Solutions

    March 06, 2019

    Municipalities are testing the boundaries of their litigation authority, claiming damages for wide-ranging matters of public policy including opioid abuse, climate change, and data privacy breaches. This paper is the first to document how and why municipalities and contingency fee lawyers are undermining legislators and state AGs with these lawsuits, the problems this trend is causing, and what states can do about it. Read More

  • Waking the Litigation Monster: The Misuse of Public Nuisance

    Waking the Litigation Monster: The Misuse of Public Nuisance

    March 06, 2019

    Local governments are increasingly teaming up with contingency fee lawyers to influence public policy issues through litigation, largely through attempts to expand the public nuisance doctrine. ILR's research outlines the origins and development of public nuisance litigation, shows the ongoing efforts of activists and attorneys to morph this theory into an all-purpose cause of action, and calls on courts to reject expanding judicial authority inappropriately into the legislative and executive branches. Read More

All Results for State Attorneys General

  1. Beyond Due Process - A Litigation Primer: Challenging Attorney General and Other Government Contingency Fee Arrangements

    January 31, 2009 | Research

    Defendants in government contingency fee lawsuits should consider a variety of non-due process "bright line" challenges to contingency fee arrangements. These include challenges based on the government's control or lack of control of the case and whether it was brought and is being litigated in the public interest; as well as challenges based on state separation of powers provisions, government contracting laws, and laws pertaining to government employment of outside counsel. This paper highlights these challenges as well as the limitations of certain of these challenges in qui tam suits, which have been brought by private plaintiffs' attorneys to circumvent the legal and policy issues associated with more traditional government contingency fee arrangements.... Read More

  2. U.S. Chamber Proposes Code of Conduct for State AGs

    October 23, 2007 | Press Release

    WASHINGTON, D.C.-In response to what it sees as improper practices by some officials, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) issued a new set of ethical standards for state attorneys general today, and will urge its voluntary adoption.

    "This proposed code of conduct balances the ability of the AGs to pursue wrongdoers while protecting the due process rights of the targets of the investigation and litigation," said ILR president Lisa Rickard in remarks at the Chamber's 8th Annual Legal Reform Summit.... Read More

  3. Attorney General Hood's Latest Lawsuit About Compensating Lawyers, Not Homeowners

    June 13, 2007 | Press Release

    Washington, D.C.- U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform President Lisa A. Rickard released the following statement in reaction to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's lawsuit against State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. related to an agreement for a mass settlement of claims over Hurricane Katrina damage.

    "This latest lawsuit by the Mississippi attorney general has little to do with compensating Mississippi homeowners for their Katrina losses, and more to do with plaintiffs' lawyers getting their cut of the compensation money.

    ... Read More

  4. Chamber: Reign in Activist State Attorneys General

    May 25, 2005 | Press Release

    WASHINGTON, D.C.- At a conference on the proper role of state attorneys general, the United States Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today released research showing the serious threat posed by activist state attorneys general and called for legislative reforms that will restore the public's faith in government. The conference also featured remarks by three current state attorneys general, Steve Carter (R-IN), Thurbert Baker (D-GA) and Tom Corbett (R-PA). ... Read More