SNF group cries foul over attorney general's contingency deal with private law firm

A December 2014 New York Times expose about law firms courting attorneys general in search of big payouts from investigations and lawsuits against corporations is not lost on long-term care providers. New Mexico's investigation of staffing issues at a large nursing home chain, and now Pennsylvania's probe into alleged staffing problems at several nursing homes are among the latest to call into question those kinds of arrangements.

A group of Pennsylvania nursing homes is petitioning the state to quash a Washington, DC, law firm's investigation into their staffing policies. It also claims the law firm has had an “improper” long-time relationship with the state's attorney general.

In appealing to the state's Commonwealth Court, the alliance of 19 nursing homes is arguing that Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll has long operated under a contingency fee basis with Attorney General Kathleen Kane. The alliance also claims her office is supporting the firm while it gathers information for an eventual lawsuit, according to published reports.

As a result, the law firm and attorney general are usurping the investigative authority of the state health department, the alliance is arguing.

Kane's office, which was reviewing the petition at press time, has retained the law firm under a three-year no-bid contingency fee agreement, according to the Patriot-News. The firm also reportedly contributed to Kane's 2012 election.

Under its agreement with Kane's office, the firm may receive 17% of any recovery for the state of up to $100 million, 10% of a recovery between $100 million and $200 million, and 5% of any greater recovery, the newspaper reported on Friday.


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