AUSTIN – House Bill 2826, which could curtail the growing trend of attorneys soliciting local governments to pursue litigation, has cleared both chambers of the Texas Legislature.
HB 2826 was introduced by Rep. Greg Bonnen, a Republican out of Friendswood, and seeks to bring transparency to how local governments hire law firms for civil lawsuits.
The legislation relates to the “procurement of a contingent fee contract for legal services by a state agency or political subdivision.”
Proponents of HB 2826, such as Texans for Lawsuit Reform, believe the bill will bring transparency to the process, requiring state entities to negotiate a contract with qualified attorneys and not just the firms that solicit them.
“House Bill 2826 gives Texas taxpayers transparency, consistency and accountability when local governments hire private attorneys on a contingency fee basis to handle government litigation,” said TLR General Counsel Lee Parsley.
“The passage of HB 2826 by the Senate ensures local governments will get quality legal services at a reasonable rate that allows them to keep more of their potential awards, and we look forward to seeing it on the governor’s desk.”
Proponents also argue the bill would help local governments keep lion’s share of proceeds from a lawsuit – an issue that became quite pronounced last year as Texas attorneys began scrambling to sign up local governments for opioid litigation.
If enacted, HB 2826 will move contingency fee contract approval out of the hands of the Texas Comptroller’s Office and into to lap of the attorney general.
HB 2826 would also give the attorney general the ability to reject a contingent fee agreement related to a matter that the state has already addressed or is pursuing and where litigation brought by the local government would not promote the just and efficient resolution of the matter.