HOUSTON – While it’s no secret that dozens upon dozens of Texas municipalities have filed opioid lawsuits, what’s not commonly known is not all of those counties, cities, and even hospital districts had a contingent fee contract approved before the law changed late last year.
Prior to Sept. 1, Texas trial lawyers could solicit local governments for litigious purposes and then send contingency fee contracts to the Comptroller’s Office for approval.
The process changed when HB 2826 went into effect, a law designed to bring transparency to how local governments go about hiring law firms and place contract approval in the hands of the attorney general.
As previously reported, at least 19 Texas counties failed to have their opioid contracts approved by the comptroller before the bill became law.
And because of the change, the Office of the Attorney General refused to approve contracts signed before Sept. 1, calling into question the future of opioid agreements signed after the law went into effect.
That question may have been answered.
In November, the Tarrant County Hospital District signed an opioid contract with Mark Lanier, founder of the Lanier Law Firm in Houston, according to documents obtained by The Record.
The hospital district submitted the contingent fee contract for review on Nov. 26, records show.
On Feb. 24, they got their answer: “the OAG refuses to approve the contract.”
The state is currently litigating its own opioid lawsuit and believes “pursuit” of an opioid suit by the hospital district “will not promote the just and efficient resolution of the matter,” states the OAG’s reply letter.