SB 0454 Establishes the Missouri Tobacco Settlement Attorney Compensation Act
LR Number:1659S.07C Fiscal Note:1659-07
Committee:Pensions and General Laws
Last Action:05/18/01 - S Inf Calendar S Bills for Perfection Journal page:
Title:SCS SB 454
Effective Date:Emergency Clause
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Current Bill Summary

SCS/SB 454 - This act, titled the Missouri Tobacco Settlement Attorney Compensation Act, authorizes the Attorney General to enter into the Model Fee Payment Arrangement, contained in the tobacco case settlement agreement. The act creates the Missouri Tobacco Settlement Attorney-Fee Trust Fund in the state treasury, into which the Treasurer shall deposit all moneys received from an award or settlement resulting from a dispute for attorneys' fees, costs and expenses related to the tobacco litigation. Moneys in the Fund shall not be appropriated until after July 1, 2002.

The Attorney General is charged with zealously collecting all attorneys' fees, costs and expenses due the state or its subcontractors resulting from the tobacco case settlement, and to deposit the proceeds with the Treasurer. The Attorney General shall represent the lead Special Assistant Attorney General, all other Special Assistant Attorneys General and subcontractors, all of whom are prohibited from receiving direct payments or settlements from tobacco companies. The act prohibits outside counsel from accepting liquidated fees, and declares any application for arbitration null and void. Payments to such attorneys shall be from the Fund. The moneys paid by the tobacco defendants which are deposited into the Fund are deemed to be payments of an attorneys' fee from the tobacco defendants to the special assistants attorneys general by negotiation.

The act establishes the Missouri Commission on Tobacco Attorney-Fee Compensation. The Supreme Court shall provide support services to the Commission. The four members of the Commission shall be the selected by the Speaker and the President Pro Tem, from lists submitted by majority and minority party leaders. No money shall be paid to the state's tobacco attorneys from the Fund without the written opinion of a majority of the Commission.

The state's outside tobacco counsel and subcontractors shall submit written requests for payment of attorneys' fees, costs and expenses to the Commission by December 31, 2001, including evidence of hours worked and a copy of their contracts for legal services. The Attorney General shall submit a recommendation regarding a reasonable fee. Any commissioner may request work product relating to the request. One public hearing shall be held concerning each attorney's request for compensation. No attorney may receive more than $500 per hour for services. A fee payment schedule shall be issued by July 1, 2002, and any moneys remaining in the Fund after that date shall be used for health care and education. Any payments appropriated shall not exceed the amount deposited into the Fund in the previous fiscal year.

The act provides that if a court invalidates the settlement, the outside counsel shall refund any payments received; the contract of June, 1998, between the state and outside counsel is void; and the AG shall apply for authority to appoint or contract with any outside counsel.

The provisions of the act are severable, and the act contains an emergency clause.