Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) and Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) have introduced legislation (SB 19) that provides greater transparency and oversight when the State of Wisconsin hires private plaintiffs’ attorneys on a contingency fee basis.
This legislation applies to contingency fee contracts with private plaintiffs’ attorneys – cases where a plaintiff attorney is paid only if he or she wins or settles the case on behalf of the state. This bill does not apply to other types of contracts with private law firms.
The interests of plaintiffs’ attorneys hired on a contingency fee basis are not always aligned with the interests of the state and its citizens. Private plaintiffs’ attorneys who are given complete control of litigation may seek settlements and judgments that maximize their profit rather than provide a benefit to the State of Wisconsin and its citizens.
Private attorneys have also received excessive fees for their work on behalf of states in some cases. Senate Bill 19 ensures that Wisconsin government attorneys retain control of the litigation and that consumers, victims, and taxpayers receive their fair share of any recovery.
Other states have passed similar laws, as described by a Wall Street Journal editorial.