Assistant AGs Get More Authority to Settle Cases

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Department of Justice on Friday gave more authority to assistant attorneys general to settle or close civil claims.
     Effective immediately, AAGs have authority to settle or close civil claims worth a greater amount of money than before.
     Previously, they were only able to settle a civil claim brought by the United States where the proposed settlement was within $2 million or 15 percent of the original claim. Now it’s to $10 million or 15 percent of the original claim.
     AAGs also now can close civil matters brought by the United States, within the same new limits.
     The change also increases the redelegation authority to the United States Attorneys for accepting offers of settlement for claims brought by the United States.
     In addition, the rule change allows the AAGs to accept settlement in civil cases brought by the United States independent of the $10 million cap when a qualified financial expert has reviewed the defendant’s finances and has determined that the defendant likely does not have the ability to pay more than the proposed settlement offer. The AAG then would not need higher level approval when claims are being settled simply based on the defendant’s financial condition rather than an analysis of the legal or factual merits of the claim.
     The DOJ points out that the change applies to cases for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, including cases brought under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.
     The new authority also allows AAGs to accept settlement offers for claims against the United States of up to $4 million (up from the current threshold of $2 million).
     It also allows a delegation of authority to the U.S. Attorneys to settle claims by the United States for up to $10 million (up from a claim of $5 million where the settlement difference does not exceed $1 million).
     The change was effective May 29.

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