Chamber Argues Against Contingent Fees in R.I. Lead Paint Case

April 4, 2006

The U.S. Chamber today urged the Supreme Court of Rhode Island to end the practice of allowing private attorneys to litigate on behalf of state governments under contingency fee agreements.

“A state’s enforcement of its laws shouldn’t be motivated by profit,” said Robin Conrad, senior vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center. “We’ve asked the court to reject these ill-conceived attempts to expand tort law under the cloak of state authority.”

The Rhode Island Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today in State of Rhode Island v. Lead Paint Industries Association, in which Rhode Island’s attorney general sued paint companies under the state’s public nuisance statute and in cooperation with private attorneys. NCLC has filed an amicus brief in the case.

The Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform is also involved in this issue.

“These contingency fee arrangements raise significant questions of impropriety, as they are typically negotiated behind closed doors,” said ILR President Lisa Rickard. “Despite the recent jury verdict in State of Rhode Island v. Lead Paint Industries Association, these sweetheart deals undermine the public’s faith in government and are the driving force behind many AG lawsuits.”

Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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