Representation of Public Entities
We have extensive experience and success representing public entities on various levels including school boards, counties, municipalities, and states in a variety of litigation. This experience gives us a direct understanding of the complexities faced by public entities and the challenges to balance various interests while protecting their citizens and the public fisc.
- Kanner & Whiteley currently represents various Attorneys General, including in New Mexico and Vermont, in their investigations and litigation of claims related to PFAS contamination. PFAS are a family of man-made chemicals that repel heat, oil, stains, grease, and water, that were a popular choice for a variety of household and industrial products, but are now known to be toxic and pose significant threats to public health and the environment. Due to their widespread use, these chemicals are now ubiquitous in the environment. Kanner & Whiteley is currently litigating on behalf of states against manufacturers of PFAS chemicals and manufacturers of Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (“AFFF”), a PFAS-containing fire suppressant often used in fire training efforts and in emergency response efforts, to address state-wide PFAS contamination, as well as specific dischargers of PFAS and PFAS-containing materials in connection with specific contaminated sites.
- Kanner & Whiteley is currently engaged in investigating and preparing lawsuits for local government clients in several states to recover damages incurred as a result of the opioid crisis, including health insurance and prescription drug costs, as well as the costs associated with social services, emergency response and other community losses. Thus far, K&W has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Monmouth County, NJ, Monmouth County v. Purdue Pharma L.P., et al., MID L-003010-18 (N.J. Super. Ct. Law Div.), and has been retained by Northampton County, PA to proceed with its opioid litigation, Northampton County, Pennsylvania v. Purdue Pharma L.P., et al., C48-CV-2017-11557 (Northampton County CCP). K&W is in the process of filing a number of lawsuits on behalf of multiple other counties, cities, and joint insurance funds.
- K&W has also filed one of the largest opioid damages lawsuits on behalf of a third-party payor, Medical Mutual of Ohio, Medical Mutual of Ohio v. Purdue Pharma L.P., et al., 18-cv-00716 (N.D. Ohio).
- Kanner & Whiteley has achieved the largest governmental recovery for natural resource damages against a single defendant as Special Counsel and Trial Counsel to the State of Louisiana in In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179, State of Louisiana v. BP, et al., 1-cv-01790 (representing the State of Louisiana in its response efforts, natural resource damage assessment, and litigation, to recover for both economic and natural resource damages following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, including 41 days at trial). In 2015, the parties reached a global settlement under which the State of Louisiana will receive approximately $10 billion, including the largest natural resource damage recovery ever by a state.
- Kanner & Whiteley’s natural resource damage litigation on behalf of the state of New Jersey resulted in a settlement of $225 million in 2015, the largest natural resource damage settlement in the State’s history. New Jersey Dep’t of Envt’l Prot. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 393 N.J. Super. 388 UNN-L-3026-04 consolidated with UNN-L-1650-05 (App.Div. 2007) (representing New Jersey for over 10 years in hard fought litigation which included a 66-day trial, to recover for natural resource damages at the sites of two former refineries under the New Jersey Spill Act, nuisance and other common law theories). (8/25/15 Letter Opinion p. 4-5, Hogan, M.) (“The Firm has labored in the high weeds of this litigation for eleven years, and during that time it received no compensation or reimbursement, as agreed. . . Likewise the high difficulty of conducting discovery and defending the State’s prerogatives from a more-than-able adversary demonstrates to this court a high level of competence and skill. There were many novel and untested questions that the Firm had to address at various stages of the proceedings, such as expert evidence questions, loss of use over time damages under the Spill Act, retroactivity of the Spill Act, the role of physical improvements, the application of the Public Trust Doctrine over private uplands, and the applicability of Habitat Equivalency Analysis methodology in NRD litigation, to name a few of the issues that required experienced, motivated, and highly skilled counsel. The Firm was up against a determined adversary who created a daunting ten year defense that a less experienced, less determined, or less skilled effort would not have been able to timely, professionally, and, for the most part, successfully meet the challenge. . . The Kanner Firm is, under any definition, a small law firm. It is dwarfed by the firms that it opposed in this case. Yet by having the focus of those attorneys assigned to the case devote the majority of their time to their client’s efforts, they undoubtedly were precluded from taking on numerous new clients particularly because of their limited size. The Attorney General’s Office, having worked with the firm for over a year on a non-compensation basis before formally retaining the firm, was most certainly well aware of the limitations their retainer agreement and subsequent litigation would place on the economics of the firm and it is no doubt a reason for their support of the Firm’s application.”)
- Kanner & Whiteley has also successfully represented local governments in pollution cases, such as Christopher Petrovic, et al. v. Amoco Oil Co., No. 95-0121 c/w City of Independence, et al. v. Amoco Oil Co., No. 95-0019 (W.D. Mo.)(representing a class of property owners and the City of Independence for environmental contamination claims against Amoco Oil); and property damage litigation such as In re School Asbestos Litigation.
- Kanner & Whiteley achieved a settlement of over $49 million on behalf of the State of Louisiana in a state Medicaid fraud case for Avandia sales in Louisiana. The Avandia settlement was the largest single recovery received by the State of Louisiana in Medicaid fraud litigation. State of Louisiana v. GlaxoSmithKline et al., Civ. Act. No. 599353, Div. D (19th JDC, East Baton Rouge Parish, LA), (Avandia).
- The firm has represented the State of Louisiana in a number of other Medicaid fraud and unfair trade practices cases achieving multi-million dollar settlements, in many multiples beyond that which was offered in national settlements, including:
- James D. “Buddy” Caldwell, Attorney General, ex rel. State of Louisiana v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc., et al., Civ. Act. No. 620978, Div. D (19th JDC, East Baton Rouge Parish, LA), (Depakote).
- State of Louisiana, ex rel. James D. “Buddy” Caldwell, Attorney General v. Shire, PLC, Civ. Act. No. 603091, Div. D (19th JDC, East Baton Rouge Parish, LA), (Adderall).
- State of Louisiana, ex rel. James D. “Buddy” Caldwell, Attorney General v. Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. et al., Civ. Act. No. 624672, Div. D (19th JDC, East Baton Rouge Parish, LA), (Lidoderm).
- Kanner & Whiteley contributed significantly to Louisiana’s second highest rating for Medicaid fraud recoveries in FY 2014, second only to New York, in total dollar recoveries, and over twice of that received by Texas.
- Kanner & Whiteley also has considerable expertise in consumer protection and antitrust litigation and is well positioned to assist state Attorneys General and local governments in protecting public monies from deceptive and anti-competitive practices.
- In Lemmings v. Second Chance Body Armor, et al., No. CJ-2004-64 (Mayes County District Court, OK) and In re: SCBA Liquidation, Inc., f/k/a/ Second Chance Body Armor, Inc., No. 04-12515 (W.D. Mich.) Kanner & Whiteley successfully represented law enforcement officers, departments, and local and state agencies in seeking reimbursement for monies spent on defective bulletproof vests.
- Kanner & Whiteley currently represents the State of New Mexico in its litigation against Dollar General for the deceptive and misleading marketing and advertising of obsolete motor oil. State of New Mexico, ex rel. Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General v. Dolgencorp, LLC (d/b/a Dollar General Corporation), No. 4:17-cv-00832-GAF (W.D. Mo.). Kanner & Whiteley is also representing the State of Mississippi in similar litigation against Dollar General. State of Mississippi, ex rel. Jim Hood, Attorney General for the State of Mississippi v. Dollar General Corporation and Dolgencorp, LLC, No. 3:17-cv-801-LG-LRA (S.D. Miss.).
- Kanner & Whiteley’s expertise in first party insurance claims and litigation has often been used by local government entities. Following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Superstorm Sandy, K&W was retained by several government entities in Louisiana, South Texas, the Gulf Region, and New Jersey to investigate and/or pursue claims against their insurers for property damage, loss of use, extra expense coverage, business interruption as well as agent and broker claims, when applicable, each involving multi-million dollar recoveries beyond what was originally paid by the insurer. Our clients have included the City of Gretna (Louisiana), Plaquemines Parish School Board, Cameron Parish School Board, the City of Pasadena (Texas), Barbers Hill Independent School District (Texas), Laporte Independent School District (Texas), and Woodbridge Township (New Jersey).
Litigation is not always the best answer for a government agency in a particular situation and the lawyers of Kanner & Whiteley pride themselves on being good counselors as well as good trial lawyers, putting their clients’ best interests first.
Kanner & Whiteley takes seriously its responsibility to act solely at the direction of its public entity clients and maintain dialogue and transparency throughout the litigation.