Calif. High Court Contingency Spat Brings Amici Flood

“It is inherently impossible,” CJAC General Counsel Fred Hiestand wrote, “for an outside, private retained counsel, compensated on the basis of a contingency fee contract, to uphold the principles of impartiality and neutrality that represent the office of the public prosecutor.”

The case has certainly stirred passions. The league and the California State Association of Counties filed their own opposing brief.
At least 17 other amici curiae briefs, representing the views of dozens of groups or individuals, have been filed with the high court in County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court (Atlantic Richfield Co.) , S163681. Oral argument is set for May 5 in San Francisco.


CA SC Oral Arguments on Contingency in Lead Paint Public Nuisance – Set for May 5

… big business knows that if contingency is allowed by the CA SC and the trial takes place and is won by the plaintiff, similar litigation could break out throughout the state. Yes, plaintiff firm Motley Rice which was the front lines in the Rhode Island lead paint litigation, is also in the loop on this matter.

We all know that the RI SC tossed the whole enchilada. But that’s no reason to exhale on this one. When I talked with legal experts about a year ago regarding this Santa Clara lawsuit, they said that CA law operates in its own way. A win or loss in another state is not a good way of getting a handle on what could occur in a CA courtroom.

Another reason this is significant is that CA court rulings at all levels tend to set precedents in other courts through the nation. If contingency is allowed, other states might move more aggressively in using it to pursue litigation by government entities against big business. The 1970s could break out again.

Jane Genova
Law and More