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Local govts can hire lawyers in lead paint suits

•  State Bar News     updated  2010/07/27 09:07


The California Supreme Court has ruled cities and counties suing companies for lead paint cleanup costs can hire private lawyers and offer them—with limitations—a financial stake in the outcome.
Monday's unanimous decision scales back its 1985 ruling that said an arrangement for a lawyer to collect a share of damages instead of an hourly fee would create a conflict of interest.

The court says it will now allow such deals as long as suits don't threaten to shut down a business, involve free-speech rights and is controlled by cities and counties rather than the lawyer.

Prosecutors say local governments lack the expertise and resources to take on corporations and they would likely be forced to drop cases if the court had barred such agreements.


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