Attorneys in the Litigation Division are skilled and seasoned professionals representing agencies and individual employees across the entire spectrum of state government as well as school districts, who are sued for money damages in cases insured by the State Division of Risk Management. Those attorneys exercise independent, professional judgment and render candid advice, referring not only to the law but also to moral, economic, social and political considerations relevant to the individual client’s situation. Clients are kept advised of developments in their cases and invited to participate in decisions made during the litigation.
On average, about 300 active lawsuits are pending in the division at any given time. To handle a litigation load of this scale, the division is staffed with 22 skilled trial and appellate lawyers and a dedicated support staff of paralegals, secretaries and law clerks. Organized into sections to handle civil rights cases, tort cases, employment law cases and appeals, the Litigation Division closed 172 such lawsuits in the last twelve months. All 172 of these lawsuits sought monetary awards by demanding either specific dollar amounts or unspecified “reasonable damages.” Setting aside the exposure for attorney fee awards sought in many of these cases, the specific dollar lawsuits alone demanded awards in excess of $97.2 million in non-prisoner cases and more than $50 million in prisoner suits. Approximate total payout on all non-prisoner cases was $1.73 million, or less than 1.8 cents for every dollar demanded (even less when factoring the demands implied in the “reasonable damage” suits). In prisoner lawsuits, demands exceeded $50 million, of which approximately $2,000 was paid.
Civil Rights Section
Attorneys in the Civil Rights Section handle multimillion dollar lawsuits claiming constitutional and statutory civil rights violations, such as free speech, religious freedom and establishment claims, as well as search and seizure, due process, cruel and unusual punishment, equal protection, Title VI, Title IX, ADA and IDEA claims.
Torts Section attorneys handle money damage lawsuits for catastrophic bodily and emotional injury, property damage, and other personal loss, allegedly caused by negligent or intentional acts and within the insurance coverage of the Utah Division of Risk Management.
Attorneys in the Employment Section specialize in defending state agencies and school districts who are sued by present and former public employees claiming wrongful termination or other job related mistreatment under a myriad of federal and state laws including Title VII, the ADA, the ADEA, FMLA and § 1983. Financial exposure in these cases can be quite significant, especially when attorney fee awards are factored in. This litigation is both emotionally demanding and factually and legally complex.
Attorneys in the Appeals Section play a critical role in advising state and federal appellate courts on how to shape and develop the law in areas that greatly impact the State and other public entities, as well as defending the successes of the trial attorneys. Cases in all four of these sections constantly involve cutting edge developments in constitutional and government law as well as trial and appellate advocacy. The division has considerable skill level and experience available to meet these demands.