Contingency Fees for Sheriffs

A contingent fee is a fee for services provided that is only payable if there is a positive result.  Most commonly we think of attorney or consultant relationships when we think of contingency fees.  A contingent fee is usually a percentage of the customer’s net recovery.  Contingency fees provide a powerful motivation for attorneys and consultants to work diligently on behalf of their customers to maximize results.

Now there’s a new group allowed to work on a contingent fee basis, sheriffs in Louisiana.  Under a Court of Appeals ruling the 64 sheriffs in Louisiana can now demand commissions of 12-17 percent of what they collect in property taxes on behalf of other government agencies going forward.  They can even go back all the way to 1978 for past commissions.

Livingston Parish Sheriff Willie Graves collected taxes for the Livingston Parish Council of Aging and charged a 12% commission, totaling about $400k since 2004.  The Council of Aging asked for a refund, citing that is was unlawful for him to charge commissions, and won the ensuing civil suit.  Graves appealed and won at the Court of Appeals, which set the new precedent.  Additionally, it was ruled that his 12% commission could actually be a 17% commission.

Sounds like this might get messy!  Sheriffs allowed to go back 30+ years to collect commissions from other government agencies.  Hey, I wonder if they can do that on a contingency basis.

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