Case Details


Control Of Litigation, Use Of Outside Counsel

Filing State



California Supreme Court




County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court, 50 Cal. 4th 35; 235 P.3d 21 (Cal. 2010)


California county may retain private counsel on a contingency fee basis, so long as those private counsel appear with and under the supervsion of government attorneys

Case Description

A line of California caselawhad prohibited all contingent fee contracts with outside counsel in government nuisance cases. The California supreme court narrowed its prior decision. In this case, the contingency fee contracts provided that the public entities’ government counsel “retain final authority over all aspects of the litigation.” The court held that contingent fee contracts were permissible provided ““neutral government attorneys must retain and exercise the requisite control and supervision over both the conduct of private attorneys and the overall prosecution of the case.”