In an important victory for the integrity of Missouri’s civil justice system, embattled former Gov. Eric Greitens signed one of the strongest Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TIPAC) bills in the nation on his last day in office.
Until recently, a private lawyer in Missouri could win a contract from a state government agency and demand huge percentages of settlement money that is supposed to go to taxpayers.
The new law, which goes into effect on August 28, helps to correct that imbalance by strengthening the state’s existing TIPAC statute—limiting the amount a private lawyer can receive from a contingency fee agreement with the state. It also ensures that fees recovered in these contracts are proportional to the total award for damages.
Fifteen other states have enacted similar legislation to improve transparency around state hiring of contingency fee counsel, but the Missouri statute goes exceptionally far to advance accountability and protect the taxpayer’s interests. For example, it sets tiers for contingency fees that decrease from 15 percent to 2 percent depending on the size of the total recovered amount, with an aggregate fee cap of $10 million and a prohibition against considering fines or civil penalties when calculating fees. The law also requires that any payment of contingency fees from the attorney general to a private lawyer be posted on a state website.
The passage of TIPAC, a long-awaited reform, reflects a broader trend of change in the Show Me state. Following an all-time low showing in the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform’s 2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States, Missouri’s lawsuit climate has started heading in the right direction. State legislators deserve credit for rolling up their sleeves and working hard to pass numerous reforms in the past year. Alongside those efforts, TIPAC will help restore balance to the legal system and ensure that Missouri taxpayers are not left footing the bill for entrepreneurial plaintiffs’ lawyers.