Agenda Item
Docket No. 24-129
Advisory Opinion request from Michael Reese Davis on behalf of his clients United Healthcare Community Plan and Optum Rx, Inc. in connection to the payment of legal fees to the State's outside counsel contracted with the Office of the Attorney General through a proposed fee award/settlement arrangement.
On April 13, 2022, the State of Louisiana, through the Office of the Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, filed a Petition for Injunctive Relief and Restitution in the 19th Judicial District Court bearing Docket No. C-717848. The suit lists as defendants OptumRx, Inc. and United Healthcare of Louisiana d/b/a United Healthcare Community Plan (collectively referred to herein as the "Defendants"). The suit seeks an Order requiring the Defendants to reimburse the Office of the Attorney General for all costs and expenses incurred in the investigation and prosecution of the suit, including the payment of attorney fees pursuant to the provisions of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act (La. R.S. 51:1401, et seq.) and the Medical Assistance Programs Integrity Law (La. R.S. 46:437.1, et seq.).

In connection with the suit, the AG's office signed a Contract for Professional Legal Services ("Legal Services Agreement") with the Law Firm of Salim-Beasley LLC for the purpose of representing the State of Louisiana on February 13, 2023. Specifically, Section 1.5 of the Legal Services Agreement provides that "This Agreement will be administered by and under the immediate supervision of the Attorney General or his designee." Section 3.1 provides that the Louisiana Legislature has appropriated no funds for the payment of fees to the attorneys for costs and expenses that have accrued or may accrue in connection with the legal services. Section 3.3, regarding fees and expenses, expressly provides:

"The only fees, costs, or expenses that shall be recovered by Counsel shall be those authorized by Louisiana or Federal law (including by not limited to, La. Rev. State. 46:438.1 et seq.) and: (a) awarded by the appropriate Court as wholly separate awards from any recovery by the State, or (b) paid in settlement by a defendant separately from a settlement of the Claims."

Section 4 provides that no settlement, compromise, or other disposition of the Claims is authorized unless approved by the Attorney General in writing. Robert L. Salim and Lisa Causey-Streete are the attorneys handling this matter for Salim-Beasley LLC.

The Office of the Attorney General has since signed similar contracts with the law firms of Meade Young LLC (Attorney John Alden Meade), Simien & Simien (Attorney Eulis Simien, Jr.), and The Lanier Law Firm, P.C. (Attorneys Mark Lanier and Alex Brown) to provide legal services in connection with the above-referenced suit (collectively referred to herein as the "Contracted Attorneys"). These agreements contain the same attorney fee provisions as the Legal Services Agreement, requiring the defendants to pay any awarded attorney fees directly to the Contracted Attorneys's law firms.
Robert Salim has submitted a letter opposing the issuance of the advisory opinion on the basis that it will interfere with issues currently pending before the District Court. See Attached.
La. R.S. 42:1111A prohibits a public employee from receiving anything of economic value, other than compensation and benefits from the governmental entity to which he is duly entitled, for the performance of the duties and responsibilities of his office or position.

La. R.S. 42:1117 provides that no public servant or other person shall give, pay, loan, transfer, or deliver or offer to give, pay, loan, transfer, or deliver, directly or indirectly, to any public servant or other person any thing of economic value which such public servant or other person would be prohibited from receiving by any provision of this Part.
To be discussed.
Assigned Attorney: David Bordelon
2024-129 - Advisory Opinion Request
2024-129 - Contract for Professional Legal Services
2024-129 - Consent Opinion 2000-381
2024-129 - AO 92-031
2024-129 - Opposition Letter - Robert Salim
2024-129- 240430 Letter to LA Board of Ethics David Bordelon