WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) applauded West Virginia lawmakers for the passage of the Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TiPAC) Act, good-government legislation that will increase transparency and appropriately limit the state’s hiring of private-sector attorneys on a contingency-fee basis. H.B. 4007 passed in the House and Senate with bipartisan support.
“A special thank-you to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for his leadership on this important piece of legislation,” began ATRA President Tiger Joyce. “The hard work and dedication of Senate President Bill Cole, House Speaker Tim Armstead, House Judiciary Chair John Shott and Senate Judiciary Chair Charlie Trump also deserve kudos.”
“By signing this legislation into law, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin adds West Virginia to a growing list of 21 other states that have adopted similar reforms in an effort to increase transparency. These states understand how vital transparency is, not only to improving a state’s civil justice system but also to boosting economic growth by attracting new businesses and jobs,” Joyce continued.
“The lack of transparency in private attorney contracting has been a national problem for some time,” Joyce observed, noting a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times series that detailed the issues involved. “In states without safeguards, attorneys general or other state officials have granted potentially lucrative contingency-fee contacts to their friends or political patrons among the personal injury bar and effectively deputized them with the power of the state to sue presumably deep-pocketed corporate defendants.”
This legislation prohibits the state from entering into a contingency-fee contract with any attorney or law firm unless the contracting agency first makes a written determination that such a contract is both cost-effective and in the public interest. It limits contingency fees relative to the size of the state’s recovery in a lawsuit, helping to ensure that litigation brought on behalf of the state will primarily benefit the state, and not simply the well-connected personal injury lawyers involved. Among other things, the bill also requires the online posting of any contingency-fee contracts and records of fee payments for public scrutiny.
ATRA has championed a national effort to pass state legislation that codifies a uniform set of standards and brings more transparency and accountability to the hiring of outside contingency fee counsel. Please visit www.agsunshine.com to learn more about this program.
The American Tort Reform Association, based in Washington, D.C., is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to tort and liability reform through public education and the enactment of legislation. Its members include nonprofit organizations and small and large companies, as well as trade, business and professional associations from the state and national level.