ATRA Commends Missouri for Bipartisan Passage of ‘Transparency Bill’

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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 29, 2018 – The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) today applauded Missouri lawmakers’ final passage of the Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TiPAC) Act, good-government legislation that […]


WASHINGTON, D.C., March 29, 2018 – The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) today applauded Missouri lawmakers’ final passage of the Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TiPAC) Act, good-government legislation that will increase transparency and appropriately limit the state’s hiring of private-sector attorneys on a contingency-fee basis.  H.B. 1531 was amended to include the TiPAC provisions and passed the legislature on March 28, 2018.

“After listening to variety of stakeholders, many lawmakers were integral in moving this important bill across the goal line,” observed ATRA president Tiger Joyce.  “ATRA commends Representative Robert Cornejo (R), Senator Sandy Crawford (R), Senator Caleb Rowden (R), Senator Scott Sifton (D) and the leadership of both the House and Senate for all of their hard work.

“We fully expect Governor Eric Greitens to sign the bill into law as he continues to make Missouri even more welcoming to business investment as well as the economic growth and job creation that such investment generates,” Joyce continued.  “Missouri will then join 22 other states that have already adopted similar legislation in an effort to preclude temptations that have too often led to pay-to-play corruption of the civil justice system in less transparent states.

“The lack of transparency in private attorney contracting has been a national problem for some time,” Joyce explained.  “In states without safeguards, attorneys general or other state officials have granted potentially lucrative contingency-fee contacts to their friends or political patrons among the personal injury bar and effectively deputized them with the power of the state to sue presumably deep-pocketed corporate defendants.

“Because contingency-fees motivate outside counsel to seek the highest possible settlement or judgment – whether such settlements or judgments bear any relationship to justice in the public interest – it’s imperative to limit and publicly report such fee arrangements when they are deemed necessary.  After all, voters and taxpayers have a right to know who is benefiting from state contracts,” concluded Joyce.

The Missouri legislation provides that a private attorney retained by the state is not entitled to a fee, exclusive of costs and expenses, of more than a set percentage determined by the dollar amount recovered.  The total fee payable to retained private attorneys in any matter subject to a contingency fee shall not exceed $10 million. The Office of Administration shall publish on the MissouriBUYS e-procurement system specified information concerning contracts for legal services entered into with a private law firm an amount greater than $2,500.

ATRA has long championed such legislation in the states, advocating a codified, uniform set of standards that bring more transparency and accountability to the hiring of outside counsel.

 

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The American Tort Reform Association, based in Washington, D.C., is the only national organization dedicated exclusively to tort and liability reform through public education and the enactment of legislation.  Its members include nonprofit organizations and small and large companies, as well as trade, business and professional associations from the state and national level. 

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