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Program D: Risk Litigation

Program Authorization: Act 448 of 1988; R.S. 36:701(D); 36:704(F); R.S. 39:1533(B)

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The mission of the Risk Litigation Program (which is organizationally expressed as the Litigation Division) is to provide legal representation for the Office of Risk Management in the Division of Administration, the Self-Insurance Fund, the State of Louisiana, and its departments, agencies, boards and commissions and their officers, officials, employees, and agents in all claims covered by the State Self-Insurance Fund, and in all tort claims whether or not covered by the Self-Insurance Fund.

The goals of the Risk Litigation Program are:

  1. Provide superior legal and professional services to the Office of Risk Management.
  2. Continue to develop extensive expertise in the defense of public entities, officials, and employees, and strive to retain highly competent and professional litigation staff.
  3. Continue to develop programs to educate agency policy makers to recognize and correct potential liability situations.

The state's tort liability exposure is far greater than in the private sector, both in dollar amount and the variety of claims asserted; examples include: road hazard liability; public health care provider liability; legislative liability; regulatory liability; and alleged liability for illegal and/or intentionally wrongful actions of elected officials. Suits against the state range from relatively minor worker's compensation claims to complex multi-district federal litigation involving hundreds of suits and/or parties and hundred of thousands or millions of dollars of exposure. Estimated attorneys' fees range from less than $500 to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In June 1993 it was determined that the state could not continue its heavy reliance upon the utilization of private contract attorneys for its tort defense. Utilization of contract attorneys had grown from $10.8 million for representation in 2,364 cases in FY 1989-90 to $20.13 million for representation of 4,000 cases in FY 1992-93. During this same period, the Litigation Division's cases and funding went from 2,693 cases and $2.61 million to 3,000 cases and $2.7 million. The attorney general developed a three-step program to increase the utilization of Litigation Division attorneys for the state's tort defense. Step One was completed in FY 1993-94 with the addition of 15 new attorney positions and 13 new support positions. With this increased staff, the Litigation Division handled 92.2% or 1,688 of the 1,830 new cases filed against the state in FY 1993-94 at a cost of $3.2 million. The total number of cases being handled by private attorneys was reduced from 4,000 to 3,501 and contract attorney costs were reduced from $20.13 million to $19.63 million. During this same period, the Litigation Division recovered and returned to the Office of Risk Management over $1 million through subrogation and/or intervention claims. Step Two was implemented in FY 1994-95 with the addition of 26 attorney positions and 23 support positions and the opening of regional division offices in Shreveport, New Orleans, and Lake Charles. With this staff, the Litigation Division handled 87% or 1,635 of the 1,878 new cases filed during FY 1993-94, at a total cost of $5.4 million. The total number of cases being handled by contract attorneys was reduced to 2,343 and total contract attorneys' fees were reduced to $9.5 million. Total attorneys fees were reduced to $14.9 million, a savings of $7.9 million from the $22.8 million level of FY 1993-94. Step Three of the program, which was approved by the 1995 legislature, authorized the opening of regional offices in Alexandria, Lafayette, and Monroe as well as the addition of 17 attorney and 15 support positions. The Alexandria and Lafayette regional offices were opened during FY 1995-96.

During FY 1997-98, the Litigation Division received 1,862 new cases to defend, of which 1,596 or 86% were assigned to division attorneys to handle while 166 or 14% were referred to contract counsel. The division has had an objective over the last several years of handling 90% of new cases in-house. During FY 1997-98, the division experienced some personnel shortages that resulted in the need to contract out more cases than usual. It is expected that this short-term downturn will soon be reversed.

The Litigation Division is divided into five sections: Civil Rights, General Liability, Medical Malpractice, Road Hazards, and Workers' Compensation. Each section specializes in litigation matters filed against the state.

The division has five regional offices that support the sections in various matters of litigation filed in the geographical areas covered by the regional offices.

 

OBJECTIVES AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

Unless otherwise indicated, all objectives are to be accomplished during or by the end of FY 1999-2000. Performance indicators are made up of two parts: name and value. The indicator name describes what is being measured. The indicator value is the numeric value or level achieved within a given measurement period. For budgeting purposes, performance indicator values are shown for the prior fiscal year, the current fiscal year, and alternative funding scenarios (continuation budget level and Executive Budget recommendation level) for the ensuing fiscal year (the fiscal year of the budget document).

 

 

RESOURCE ALLOCATION FOR THE PROGRAM

SOURCE OF FUNDING

This program is funded with Fees and Self-generated Revenues. Fees and Self-generated Revenues are derived from the Office of Risk Management for investigative and legal services.

ANALYSIS OF RECOMMENDATION

GENERAL FUND

TOTAL

T.O.

DESCRIPTION

 

 

 

 

 

$0

$8,602,062

180

 

ACT 19 FISCAL YEAR 1998-1999

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BA-7 TRANSACTIONS:

$0

$11,375

0

 

Carry forward BA-7 approved for Relocation of communications’ wiring, and office furniture ordered timely, but not received until after June 30, 1998

$0

$45,000

0

Approved BA-7 for additional office space

 

 

 

 

 

$0

$8,658,437

180

 

EXISTING OPERATING BUDGET – November 20, 1998

 

 

 

 

 

$0

$201,756

0

Unclassified State Employees Merit Increases for FY 1999 – 2000

$0

$214,100

0

 

Acquisitions and Major Repairs

$0

($200,000)

0

 

Nonrecurring Acquisitions and Major Repairs

$0

($11,375)

0

 

Nonrecurring carry forward office furniture and communications wiring

$0

($60,157)

0

Rent in State-owned Buildings

$0

($303,875)

0

 

Attrition Adjustment

$0

$86,355

0

 

Other Adjustments – Related Benefits adjustment

$0

$2,136,251

0

 

Other Adjustments – Salary adjustments; for additional expenses for expert witnesses, fees and taking dispositions; other operating expenses; and acquisitions

 

 

 

 

 

$0

$10,721,492

180

 

TOTAL RECOMMENDED

 

 

 

 

 

$0

$2,063,055

0

 

DIFFERENCE (TOTAL RECOMMENDED AND EXISTING OPERATING BUDGET)

The total means of financing for this program is recommended at 123.8% of the existing operating budget. It represents 101.0% of the total request ($10,619,336) for this program. The increase in funding for this program is primarily due to the increases provided for implementation of a salary pay schedule for attorneys, non-attorneys, and attendant expenses, additional expenses for expert witnesses, fees and taking dispositions; other operating expenses; and acquisitions.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

$65,000

 

Legal services for funding expert witnesses, and other related costs

 

 

 

$65,000

 

TOTAL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

OTHER CHARGES

$61,050

 

Funding for taking depositions, court costs and travel

 

 

 

$61,050

 

TOTAL OTHER CHARGES

ACQUISITIONS AND MAJOR REPAIRS

$201,999

 

Replacement Computer and office equipment

$95,900

 

Replacement Office furniture

$285,000

 

Library Reference Materials replacements

 

 

 

$582,899

 

TOTAL ACQUISITIONS AND MAJOR REPAIRS


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