ATRA Commends Ohio for Bipartisan Passage of 'Transparency' Bill

New Law Will Improve Economic Growth in the "Buckeye State"

WASHINGTON--()--The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) today applauded Ohio lawmakers’ final passage of the Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TiPAC) Act, good-government legislation that will increase transparency and appropriately limit the state’s hiring of private-sector attorneys on a contingency-fee basis. S.B. 38 passed overwhelmingly in the Senate on March 18 and passed the House on April 29 with bipartisan support.

“After listening to variety of stakeholders, many lawmakers were integral in moving this important bill across the goal line”

“After listening to variety of stakeholders, many lawmakers were integral in moving this important bill across the goal line,” observed ATRA president Tiger Joyce. “The bill sponsors, Senator Bill Seitz and Representative Jim Butler, certainly deserve a lot of credit. Additionally, the bill’s passage would not have been possible without the critical support it received from House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, House Committee on Government Accountability and Oversight Chair Tim Brown, Senate President Keith Faber, and Senate Committee on Government Oversight and Reform Chair Bill Coley.

“We fully expect Governor John Kasich to sign the bill into law as he continues to make Ohio even more welcoming to business investment as well as the economic growth and job creation that such investment generates,” Joyce continued. “Ohio will then join 19 other states that have already adopted similar legislation in an effort to preclude temptations that have too often led to pay-to-play corruption of the civil justice system in less transparent states.

“The lack of transparency in the private attorney contracting has been a national problem for some time,” Joyce explained. “In states without safeguards, attorneys general and/or other state officials have granted potentially lucrative contingency-fee contacts to their friends or political patrons among the personal injury bar and effectively deputized them with the power of the state to sue presumably deep-pocketed corporate defendants.

“Because contingency-fees motivate outside counsel to seek the highest possible settlement or judgment – whether such settlements or judgments bear any relationship to justice in the public interest – it’s imperative to limit and publicly report such fee arrangements when they are deemed necessary. After all, voters and taxpayers have a right to know who is benefiting from state contracts,” concluded Joyce.

The Ohio legislation prohibits the state from entering into a contingency-fee contract with any attorney or law firm unless the contracting agency first makes a written determination that such a contract is both cost-effective and in the public interest. It limits contingency fees relative to the size of the state’s recovery in a lawsuit, helping to ensure that litigation brought on behalf of the state will primarily benefit the state, and not simply the well-connected personal injury lawyers involved. Among other things, the bill also requires the online posting of any contingency-fee contracts and records of fee payments for public scrutiny.

ATRA has long championed such legislation in the states, advocating a codified, uniform set of standards that bring more transparency and accountability to the hiring of outside counsel.

The American Tort Reform Association, based in Washington, D.C., is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to tort and liability reform through public education and the enactment of legislation. Its members include nonprofit organizations and small and large companies, as well as trade, business and professional associations from the state and national level.

Contacts

American Tort Reform Association (ATRA)
Darren McKinney, 202-682-0084