The Delaware Department of Justice is seeking outside law firms to act as special counsel in an investigation into possible violations of environmental laws pertaining to hazardous substances, wastewater and ground contamination.
State Attorney General Kathleen Jennings’ office said Friday that it had issued an official request for proposals for private law firms to submit competitive bids by June 14 to aid in the probe, which could result in litigation.
“The people of this state are as entitled to environmental justice as they are to public safety, to civil rights, and to freedom from predatory business practices,” Jennings said in a press release. “If we learn that Delaware’s environmental laws have been violated then we will seek action to hold accountable those who jeopardize our health and our communities.”
According to the RFP, the DOJ planned to select one firm to act as special legal counsel on the investigation, but still reserved the right to award multiple contracts if it were determined to be in the best interests of the state. All interested applicants, the agency said, should submit electronic copies of the proposals, along with a transmittal letter summarizing their interest, to Deputy Attorney General Christian Douglas Wright by close of business June 14.
The RFP said the project would also include experts “in field of geology, environmental engineering, hydrology, hydrogeology, clinical toxicology, or other related disciplines.” All work would be done on a contingency fee basis and would not involve the use of state funds, according to the document.
The request was not the first time the DOJ looked to outside help to launch a major state investigation.
Under former Attorney General Matt Denn, the agency retained a national team of attorneys from four law firms to spearhead a probe into companies that the DOJ suspected of contributing to the state’s opioid crisis.
That effort resulted in a lawsuit last year against a contingent of leading pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies, which the state accused of using deceptive marketing tactics to increase opioid sales and allowing painkillers to be used for unapproved purposes. A state judge in February allowed the bulk of the state’s opioid lawsuit to proceed, and the case remains pending in Delaware Superior Court.
Spokesmen for Jennings’ office did not respond to an inquiry Friday seeking additional information on what kind of environmental violations the DOJ was investigating.
The DOJ said a contract would be awarded by June 28.