1998 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Hawks
Senate Bill 2095
AN ACT TO BE ENTITLED "THE FAIR FEES FOR MISSISSIPPI ACT"; TO CREATE A SPECIAL FUND DESIGNATED FOR TOBACCO LITIGATION SETTLEMENT MONIES; TO RESTRICT THE EXPENDITURE OF MONIES DEPOSITED IN THE SPECIAL FUND; TO PLACE LIMITATIONS ON ATTORNEYS' FEES PAYABLE OUT OF THE FUND OR IN CONNECTION WITH TOBACCO LITIGATION SETTLEMENTS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This act shall be referred to as "The Fair Fees for Mississippi Act."
SECTION 2. The Legislature finds that use of all funds received by the state or by any attorney in settlement of "tobacco litigation" to which the state was a party should be deposited in a special fund to be used for specifically limited purposes. The Legislature further finds that the funds available to the state's taxpayers would be reduced by the legal fees that are being sought by attorneys who brought lawsuits against the tobacco industry and small Mississippi businesses, and that a fair limitation on the fees to be paid to attorneys in the tobacco litigation is in the best interests of the taxpayers of the state and would provide for fair compensation to the attorneys involved while preventing unfair windfalls at the expense of the taxpayers.
SECTION 3. There is hereby created in the State Treasury a special fund designated as the Tobacco Litigation Settlement Fund into which shall be deposited such money as may be received by the state or by any attorney as settlement of any litigation in which the State of Mississippi is a plaintiff or claimant for damages suffered by the state as a result of the use of tobacco or tobacco products by the residents of the State of Mississippi. Money in this fund shall be appropriated by the Legislature and solely limited to funding tax cuts for the state taxpayers and to the payment of attorneys' fees in connection with the litigation for which the settlement money was received.
SECTION 4. Any attorney seeking fees to be paid out of the Tobacco Litigation Settlement Fund shall be limited to recover only actual expenses incurred plus One Hundred Fifty Dollars ($150.00) per hour for time actually expended in professional legal services on behalf of the state's taxpayers in such litigation. This limitation will apply to all fees sought for any such litigation on behalf of the state, including, without limitation, fees sought through negotiation, court order, settlement agreement, contingency fee arrangement, arbitration procedure, alternative dispute resolution procedure or other arrangement for payment of attorneys' fees. Full disclosure for public review of all documents, including invoices, billing records, expense reimbursement forms and other information in whatever form maintained to document an attorney's time and expenses, must be made in order to authorize payment of any attorney's fees from the fund.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.