The General Litigation Division has a broad practice that includes defending state agencies, elected and appointed officials (in their official capacity), and state employees (in their official capacity) in civil litigation, handling contract disputes for all state agencies, and serving as legal counsel to the Office of the Attorney General and other select agencies on issues of procurement, contract negotiation, and contract drafting.
The division’s civil litigation matters include employment litigation, whistleblower claims, tenure denials, claims of discrimination, student dismissals, libel, slander, and tort actions.
The division also defends against challenges to the constitutionality of Texas statutes and the state’s administration of programs such as public education, Medicaid, and the state hospital system.
The division handles the above cases in state and federal courts through all litigation stages, including in many instances the appellate process.
Description of Division Functions
The General Litigation Division defends state agencies and state employees, including elected and appointed state officials, under Chapter 104 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, in employment litigation, civil rights litigation, and miscellaneous litigation. Such suits include claims under the Texas Whistleblower Act, claims brought under Title VII and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, claims brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and claims under Title VI and Title IX, claims of violations of the United States Constitution and Texas Constitution including claims alleging a lack of due process in faculty and student dismissals by institutions of higher education. The division represents state employees and officials in libel, slander and other intentional tort claims as well as constitutional claims brought under 42 U.S.C. §1983.
The division defends against challenges to the constitutionality of state statutes and appropriation riders. This can include major litigation like challenges to Texas education laws and funding formulas, challenges to the child support statutes, and challenges alleging the unconstitutionality of appropriations riders dealing with procedures or restrictions on state spending.
The division also defends state agencies in institutional reform suits, such as those concerning the administration of federal programs like Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF, formerly AFDC), Medicaid, Medicare and food stamps as well as claims regarding the adequacy of the public education system and related matters. It defends state agencies and university teaching hospitals sued under the Federal False Claims Act and has represented the Governor in suits under the Indian Gambling Regulatory Act. The division also represents various state entities in cases of personal injury and death brought under the United States Constitution.
Additionally, the division defends and prosecutes lawsuits involving regulatory and financial matters for state agencies.
The division prosecutes enforcement actions to enjoin fraud, unauthorized activities, statutory violations, and financial irregularities discovered by its client agencies involving insurance, securities, consumer credit, banking, and accountancy, and it prosecutes civil claims for damages for client agencies in breach of contract and other matters.
The division also defends agency rules, regulations, and final decisions challenged under the Texas Administrative Procedure Act and defends state agencies in civil suits involving contract disputes and commercial matters, including disputes arising out of construction contracts. Many of the lawsuits handled by the division involve multimillion-dollar claims.
The division also represents state agencies in disputes with the federal government and defends state statutes and regulations challenged in federal-preemption lawsuits. In addition, the division advises agencies on contract matters, rule-making, administrative matters, legislative impact on agency functions, and a variety of other legal questions within the division’s areas of expertise.
Some of the Division’s client agencies include:
Texas Department of Insurance (enforcement actions and insurance rate decisions; licensing and disciplinary matters; challenges to insurance statutes and rules; litigation matters; advice and consultation on a variety of insurance-related matters and department oversight of quasi-governmental entities such as insurance risk pools)
State Securities Board (civil securities fraud matters to enjoin the fraudulent or unregistered sale of securities and to pursue restitution for defrauded investors where possible; administrative appeals of Board decisions)
Texas State Board of Public Accountancy (unauthorized practice of accounting or violations of the Public Accountancy Act)
Comptroller of Public Accounts (unclaimed property and escheat; approving authorizations for the payment of small claims)
Texas Department of Banking (actions involving unauthorized banks, trust companies, licensing matters, and unlawful banking practices; defending the department in federal- preemption lawsuits challenging state banking regulation)
Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner (licensing matters and the charging of usurious interest)
Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending (litigation involving the Mortgage Broker Recovery Fund and third-party discovery matters; appeals of final orders issued by the Commissioner; advice and consultation to the department on various legal and litigation issues)
University Systems (commercial litigation, including construction matters, land disputes, trademark infringement, recovery of stolen books, and open records issues)
Texas Facilities Commission (advice on contract matters; defense of contract disputes and challenges to bidding processes)
Retirement Systems (benefits litigation, contract claims, garnishment matters, and other related financial disputes)
Health and Human Services Commission (contract, procurement, and collection matters; statutory subrogation claims in third party negligence cases for reimbursement of public health services)
Texas Lottery Commission (contract and procurement matters; issues relating to charitable bingo; cases involving claims for lottery prizes)
Texas Department of Criminal Justice (litigation and mediation arising out of contract disputes)
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (complex business matters arising out of the client's issuance of bonds to raise money for low income housing or disputes related to grants or loans made to fund low income housing projects)
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (contract disputes)
Secretary of State (litigation arising out of corporate and partnership filings)
The division also engages in transactional contract work for its clients, including:
- drafting, reviewing, and processing many agreements and contracts on behalf of the agency, including, but not limited to, litigation expert witness contracts, grant contracts, software license agreements, speaker agreements for agency conferences or in-house programs, interlocal agreements, interagency agreements, and various other procurement contracts;
- offering legal advice to clients relating to all phases of the procurement and contracting process;
- coordinating, along with General Counsel Division, with other OAG divisions on a variety of transactional and administrative matters, including the routing process for contract signature;
- contract administration and performance of monitoring functions for select contracts which have high dollar values, special technical requirements, and complex relationships
- coordinating outside counsel contracts for various external state agencies;
- legal sufficiency review of contingent fee contract for certain legal services on behalf of political subdivisions, as required in Tex. Gov’t Code § 2254.002(1);
- legal sufficiency review of collection contracts as required by Tex. Gov’t Code § 2107.003(b)(2) and further detailed in 1 Tex. Admin. Code §59.2, before the contracts receive final OAG approval from Bankruptcy and Collections Division;
- legal sufficiency relating to toll projects submitted by toll project entities;
- reviewing the form and terms of health care contracts of HHSC, TRS, and ERS of $250 million or more;
- serving as contracts counsel to a variety of small state agencies who receive general counsel services through the Administrative Law Division (ALD); and
- representing the State of Texas Contract Advisory Team.