Friday deadline approaches for law firms wanting to sue over winter storm gas prices

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Law firms that might want to represent Oklahoma in Attorney General Gentner Drummond’s vow to recover billions of dollars gained from market manipulation during the 2021 Winter Storm Uri have untl Friday at 5 p.m. to submit their bids. They will also be limited to $50 million in representing the state.

In announcing his decison last week, Drummond said the case would be the most significant in state history.

“I believe it is very likely that at this point, significant legal action will be necessary to recover billions of dollars for Oklahoma ratepayers. And that is why today, I am announcing my office will solicit proposals to recover billions of dollars for Oklahoma ratepayers.”

The RFP or Request for Proposals was opened last Tuesday, the same day Drummond said he intended to take whatever legal action might be necessary to recover the gains made by natural gas suppliers during the winter storm.

While Drummond, as a candidate in 2018 heavily criticized then-Attorney General Mike Hunter for using private attorneys in the state’s lawsuit against opiod manufacturers, he chose to do the same thing in the case he believes exists against certain unnamed gas suppliers.

The RFP defended Drummond’s decision by explaining that the “State has determined that hiring private counsel on a contingency fee basis is in the best interests of the State to  ensure adequate resources and expertise in the subject matter are available to prosecute any cases or claims.”

The RFP as released by the Attorney General’s office made it clear what the intent is, “for outside counsel (“Law Firm” or
“Firm” to pursue legal action related to potential market manipulation and other potentially unlawful conduct in relation to Winter Storm Uri, resulting in ill-gotten gains at the expense of
Oklahoma ratepayers.”

Out-of-state law firms will be eligible in the bid to represent Oklahoma and the state payment will not exceed $50 million.

“Notwithstanding the above recovery fee schedule, the total contingency fee payable shall not exceed $50,000,000.00, excluding any costs and expenses provided by the contract and actually incurred by Law Firm, and regardless of the number of actions or proceedings or number of retained attorneys involved.”

The RFP also laid out different percentages regarding recovery of funds.

Recovery Percentage
Less than $10,000,000.00 __% (no higher than 25%)
$10,000,000.01-$15,000,000.00 Plus __% of any amount in this range (no higher than 20%)

$15,000,000.01-$20,000,000.00 Plus __% of any amount in this range (no higher than 15%)

$20,000,000.01-$25,000,000.00 Plus __% of any amount in this range (no higher than 10%)

$25,000,000.01 or more Plus __% of any amount in this range (no higher than 5%)

Law firms seeking to represent the state were also notified in the RFP that documents they submit as part of a bid might be “public records and subject to disclosure.”