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Missouri bill would cap fees for contracted state lawyers

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The Missouri House is advancing a proposal to limit fees collected by private lawyers who are contracted by the attorney general’s office.

The House gave the measure initial approval in a voice vote Tuesday.

The proposal would create tiered caps ranging from 15 percent for recoveries of less than $10 million to 2 percent for more than $20 million. Private lawyers couldn’t get more than $10 million in fees from judgments and settlements.

Republican sponsor Rep. Robert Cornejo says private attorneys can get windfalls from working state cases. He says higher contingency fees for lawyers mean less money for the state.

But Republican Rep. Jay Barnes says qualified private lawyers sometimes are needed for challenging cases. He argued limiting fees could discourage top attorneys from contracting with the attorney general.

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