Private Lawyers Pocket $73 Million In Florida’s Opioid Case

An employee counts US dollars at a bureau de change in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on September 10, 2015. The Brazilian real devaluated Thursday 1.92% against the US dollar. Brazil was downgraded by Standard & Poor's financial services company and lost its investment-grade credit rating. AFP PHOTO/VANDERLEI ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody paid private lawyers tens of millions of dollars for negotiating opioid settlements, bypassing the state’s $50 million cap on contingency fees.
  • Moody’s explanation: The companies she sued paid the fees, with more than $70 million flowing to one Washington law firm. But her explanation could be seen as contradicted both by the contract a predecessor AG signed with outside law firms as well as Florida law, which treats any legal fee that is conditioned upon winning a case as a contingency fee.
  • And Section 16.0155 of the Florida statutes states “in no event shall the aggregate contingency fee exceed $50 million” in any set of litigation, regardless of the number of cases or lawyers involved.