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There is No Argument: Attorney General Morrisey has a History of Lower Outside Counsel Fees, Negotiating & Delivering for Taxpayers

January 8th, 2024 by WCBC Radio

The numbers speak for themselves, and there can be no argument. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has served as a ferocious advocate for guarding taxpayers’ money and saving the state millions of dollars through lower outside counsel fees. That’s even in comparison to his predecessor, whose outside attorneys’ fees typically ranged from 33% to as high as 40%. Under Attorney General Morrisey, those fees averaged 8.4%.

“It has always been my goal as Attorney General to be the best steward of taxpayers’ money,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “I will continue to fight to get the best bang for our buck in West Virginia in all settlements and fee arrangements we negotiate.”

For instance, from the beginning of the opioid litigation, Attorney General Morrisey was concerned with the amount of hard-earned settlement money that would fall into the hands of the attorneys. That is why the office negotiated with its outside counsel for a contingency fee far below the standard set forth in W.Va. Code §5-3-3a for all work performed for the state. That negotiated number is 7.76%–the state negotiated one of the lowest (if not the lowest) attorneys’ fees in the nation.

Throughout 2022 and 2023, the Attorney General repeatedly objected to the fee levels sought by the counties and cities. Attorney General Morrisey submitted formal objections in early 2023 and even met with the commissioner of the Common Benefit Fund to urge him to pay less money to attorneys. The objection was to the 15% attorney’s fees adopted by the Mass Litigation Panel on the commissioner’s recommendation. The Attorney General’s Office has produced a chart that provides an at-a-glance comparison of cases he inherited from his predecessor, where Attorney General Morrisey lowered the percentage of some fees and the fee percentage average during his service. The numbers tell an amazing story about how aggressive the Attorney General has been to save taxpayers’ money.