Municipality Litigation

For years, plaintiffs’ lawyers have developed relationships with state attorneys general and pitched them to represent states against pharmaceutical, financial services, energy, and various other types of companies over a broad range of claims. In some instances, this resulted in state AGs awarding no-bid and secret contracts to private attorneys on a contingency fee basis. Read More...

Now, using their tried-and-true state AG blueprint, plaintiffs’ lawyers have found a new way to expand their business model: building relationships with cities and counties, pitching them with opportunities to bring lawsuits over matters of statewide and national concern, and representing them on a contingency fee basis. These lawsuits range from opioids to climate change to data privacy—serious issues of great public importance that should be addressed by policymakers, not private lawyers representing cities and counties.

Recently, the Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) released Mitigating Municipality Litigation: Scope and Solutions, which outlines the consequences of municipality lawsuits including limiting the potential for global settlement, undermining the authority of state legislatures and attorneys general, and reducing the funds available to compensate victims. ILR also recently released Waking the Litigation Monster: The Misuse of Public Nuisance, which details how trial lawyers are increasingly attempting to expand the public nuisance doctrine to bring lawsuits (increasingly on behalf of municipalities) to address wide-ranging societal issues that should be left to the political branch.

Municipality litigation is bad for plaintiffs, bad for defendants, and bad for communities. The only group that benefits are the plaintiffs’ lawyers who see a potentially massive client base and opportunity for huge profits. States must rein in municipality lawsuits so there can be a path to justice for everyone.


Suggested Resources

  • Litigation vs. Restoration: Addressing Louisiana's Coastal Land Loss

    Litigation vs. Restoration: Addressing Louisiana's Coastal Land Loss

    August 08, 2019

    The oil and gas industry is a fundamental driver of Louisiana's economy, but it is currently threatened by an unprecedented number and variety of coastal land loss litigation. This paper documents the history of the oil and gas industry in Louisiana, the inconsistent pressures being exerted by landowners and the state, and the array of litigation against it. The paper also calls on state and local officials to collaborate with companies to restore the state's coastline, rather than engaging in costly litigation that detracts from true remediation and restoration efforts. Read More

  • Mitigating Municipality Litigation: Scope and Solutions

    Mitigating Municipality Litigation: Scope and Solutions

    March 06, 2019

    Municipalities are testing the boundaries of their litigation authority, claiming damages for wide-ranging matters of public policy including opioid abuse, climate change, and data privacy breaches. This paper is the first to document how and why municipalities and contingency fee lawyers are undermining legislators and state AGs with these lawsuits, the problems this trend is causing, and what states can do about it. Read More

All Results for Municipality Litigation

  1. Law Firms Set to Earn Hundreds of Millions in Fees Related to 15 Opioid Settlements

    March 04, 2020 | News

    About a dozen law firms are already set to earn nearly $160 million in fees related to 15 opioid settlements in Ohio and Oklahoma, and according to's review of the contracts associated with those settlements, that amount is likely to increase. ... Read More

  2. From the President's Desk: Private Lawyers Creating Havoc in Opioid MDL

    March 02, 2020 | Blogs

    Private plaintiffs' lawyers took the nation by storm a few years ago, signing up many local towns, cities, counties, and other types of municipalities for lawsuits over the opioid epidemic, making huge promises of big paydays. There are thousands of these lawsuits now consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio.... Read More

  3. Legal Fees Take Center Stage in Opioid Trial

    March 02, 2020 | News

    A new issue has arisen, according to, as the negotiation over a settlement continues in the massive opioid multidistrict litigation proceedings: how do the lawyers get paid, and how much?... Read More

  4. ILR Research Review, Volume 6, Issue 2

    September 10, 2019 | Research

    This edition of the ILR Research Review covers four developments that represent a cross-section of the litigation challenges facing the American business community today, including: municipality lawsuits against energy producers; the unsuitability of private rights of action for protecting privacy; the enduring value of arbitration; and the urgent need to ensure fairness for defendants in multidistrict litigation proceedings.... Read More