Case Details


Can The Attorney General Authorize A Contingent Fee Contract For A Local Government Entity?

Filing State



Louisiana District Court




No. C626798 (19th Jud. Dist., East Baton Rouge La. Mar. 21, 2014)


Attorney general can authorize contingent fee contract when attorneys’ fees are separate from damages and are ordered by a court.

Case Description

A local authority, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, filed suit against a number of oil and gas companies to recover the costs of repairing damage to Louisiana’s coastline.  As required by law, the Attorney General reviewed and approved the authority’s resolution to hire attorneys.  Those attorneys were hired on a contingent fee basis.  The Louisiana Oil and Gas Authority filed suit, challenging the Attorney General’s approval of the attorney fee arrangements.  Under a 1997 state supreme court ruling, the attorney general is generally prohibited from entering into a contingency fee contract unless that contract is approved by the Legislature. Under this contract, the contingency portion would be money awarded by a judge for attorneys’ fees and expenses, separate from damages awarded to the state.  The district court held that the Attorney General is authorized to enter into a contingent contract when the terms provide that the attorneys will be awarded fees only through order of the court, and the state will not be responsible for any costs or fees.  Characterizing the suit as “frivolous” at the hearing, the judge taxed the defendant with costs