SE Texas Record

Friday, December 6, 2019

When you’re done, you’re done

Our View

Nov 26, 2019

General court 10

The great English metaphysical poet John Donne got terrible grades in college. Often, when taking exams, he would come across a question that required a bit of thought, so he would put his quill pen down and ponder it. The proctor, seeing that he was no longer writing, would approach and ask, “Are you done?” Thinking that he was being asked to affirm his identity, he would reply, “Yes, I am.” Whereupon the proctor would take possession of his uncompleted test and dismiss him, dooming Donne to a failing mark.

Though that may be an apocryphal story, and we know that it is because we made it up ourselves, it does go to show how having the name Donne might be disadvantageous at times. Of course, you don’t have to be named Donne to think that you are done, and that could cause problems, too – as certain plaintiffs attorneys hoping to represent local governments in opioid lawsuits are now discovering, to their chagrin.

Until recently, Texas law required local governments to submit contingency-fee contracts to the state comptroller for approval, but that all changed on Sept. 1 with the passage of HB 2826. Now, local governments must get approval from the state attorney general, rather than the comptroller. Unfortunately for them and their contingent attorneys, some of the 103 (out of 254) Texas counties that negotiated contracts for opioid litigation failed to have those contracts approved by the comptroller before authority passed to the attorney general.

At least 19 Texas counties failed to get their opioid contracts approved by the comptroller before the transfer of authority to the attorney general, and those contracts are now, essentially, null and void. Can’t the same contracts just be submitted to the AG? Not if they were signed before Sept. 1, 2019. At the very least, they will have to be reapproved and re-signed before submission.

How exasperating! But they knew approval was needed, and they knew the deadline. The attorneys, needless to say, are in a panic, because they thought they were done.

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Texas Attorney GeneralSIMON GREENSTONE

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