ATRA Commends Kentucky for Bipartisan Passage of ‘Transparency’ Bill

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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 22, 2018 – The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) today applauded Kentucky lawmakers’ final passage of the Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TiPAC) Act, good-government legislation that […]


WASHINGTON, D.C., March 22, 2018 – The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) today applauded Kentucky lawmakers’ final 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. 198 passed the House by a vote of 52-40 on February 15th, and the Senate by a vote of 26-12 on March 19th. Today, the House concurred in the Senate amendments by a vote of 57-36.

“The bill sponsor, Representative Jason Nemes, was integral in moving this important bill across the goal line, as was House Speaker David Osborne and Floor Leader Jonathan Shell,” observed ATRA president Tiger Joyce.  “They deserve a lot of credit for listening to a variety of stakeholders.”

“We fully expect Governor Matt Bevin to sign the bill into law as he continues to make Kentucky even more welcoming to business investment as well as the economic growth and job creation that such investment generates,” Joyce continued.  “Kentucky will then join 21 other states that have already adopted similar legislation in an effort to preclude temptations that have too often led to pay-to-play corruption of the civil justice system in less transparent states.

“The lack of transparency in private attorney contracting has been a national problem for some time,” Joyce explained.  “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.

“Because contingency-fees motivate outside counsel to seek the highest possible settlement or judgment – whether such settlements or judgments bear any relationship to justice in the public interest – it’s imperative to limit and publicly report such fee arrangements when they are deemed necessary.  After all, voters and taxpayers have a right to know who is benefiting from state contracts,” concluded Joyce.

The Kentucky 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 long championed such legislation in the states, advocating a codified, uniform set of standards that bring more transparency and accountability to the hiring of outside counsel.

 

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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. 

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