State and local governments, including cities and counties, are charged with unique authority – and duty – to address health care and consumer fraud, environmental hazards and other wrongdoing that impacts their citizens. When unfair, unsafe, or deceptive business practices jeopardize the public interest, litigation filed by government entities can secure significant financial recoveries and injunctive relief that remediate, prevent and deter illegal practices.
Motley Rice’s Public Client practice is dedicated to supporting public entities in investigations and litigation aimed at protecting consumers, patients, workers and public funds. We focus on cases that have a strong public interest and policy dimension, including representing Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands in Takata airbag litigation that seeks civil penalties and restitution for allegedly harmed consumers.
Motley Rice is working with multiple state Attorneys General, local governments and other public entities to help investigate and litigate the opioid epidemic, which is reported to claim 175 American lives each day. In 2014, Motley Rice’s Public Client practice leader Linda Singer worked closely with Santa Clara County and the City of Chicago in order to file the first in a wave of litigation that alleges the deceptive marketing of prescription painkillers by drug manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, Endo, and Janssen, is the primary cause of the opioid crisis. In addition, the firm’s co-founder Joe Rice serves as co-lead counsel in the National Prescription Opiate Litigation coordinated in the Northern District of Ohio. Read more about this opioid-related litigation.
We take on cases that not only pursue recoveries, but aim to advance the law, make markets and market-players more fair, honest, and transparent, and help to save lives. We have the resources and experience in complex litigation and resolutions to assist government lawyers and help them resolve their matters, efficiently and effectively.
Recognizing the special responsibilities in assisting government enforcers, Motley Rice maintains the highest ethical standards. We recognize our role is to support, and not supplant, government decision-makers. The firm also does not make financial contributions to clients or the campaigns of potential client representatives.
Our Public Client Litigation Team
Our attorneys have firsthand knowledge of the challenges faced by public agencies. Linda Singer, head of the Public Client practice group, has devoted her career to public service and is a former Attorney General for the District of Columbia.
Attorney Mimi Liu has worked as senior lawyer for a national public interest group, litigating numerous constitutional civil rights issues in state and federal trial and appeals courts.
With this experience, we bring not only a deep understanding of the legal issues, but of the tools and objectives involved in government enforcement. The firm’s diverse practice areas also bolster our Public Client work, lending knowledge in areas such as securities, antitrust, qui tam, pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices.
Our Public Client attorneys have experience litigating groundbreaking consumer fraud cases against some of the largest financial services and health care companies in the United States, including:
- Credit Bureaus: Represented the Mississippi Attorney General in litigation and investigations alleging violations of state and federal law by the national credit reporting bureaus which allegedly failed to take adequate measures to prevent error-riddled data from appearing in the credit files of millions of consumers, jeopardizing their ability to obtain access to credit and employment.
- Nursing Homes: Represented several Attorneys General in litigation and investigations alleging deceptive marketing and false claims by numerous for-profit nursing home chains that promised and billed for, but allegedly failed to provide, basic care to their elderly residents.
- Financial Crisis: Assisted in civil law enforcement investigations targeting fraudulent lending practices that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.
- Wall Street: Represented a state Attorney General in the first wave of investigations of major financial institutions that bought and sold allegedly fraudulent and doomed-to-fail mortgages, recovering more than $60 million in relief.
- For-Profit Colleges: Recovered payments and secured precedent-setting injunctive relief for students who alleged they were defrauded by a chain of for-profit colleges.
- Worker Rights: Represented a state in an investigation of a Fortune 100 company that allegedly misclassified its workers as independent contractors, denying them key legal protections and avoiding state tax obligations.
- Bank of America: Represented Nevada and Arizona in consumer fraud litigation filed against Bank of America for allegedly unfair and deceptive conduct in servicing of roughly one-half million mortgages, securing financial payments, commitments to mortgage modifications and other relief valued at nearly $1 billion.
- Hess Oil: Represented the U.S. Virgin Islands in an enforcement action against Hess Oil for allegedly failing to meet its economic commitment and for violating environmental laws, resulting in an $800 million resolution.
“Big Tobacco” Litigation
In the 1990s, Motley Rice co-founders Ron Motley (1944-2013) and Joe Rice, and many of the firm’s attorneys represented two dozen state Attorneys General and multiple municipalities as lead counsel in landmark litigation that held the tobacco industry accountable for its impact on public health. The resulting $246 billion* Master Settlement Agreement reached with four of the nation’s largest tobacco producers reimbursed states for publicly funded health care costs and imposed advertising and sponsorship restrictions on the tobacco companies. The agreement remains the largest civil litigation settlement in U.S. history.
*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.