Republicans in the legislature are raising questions about the agreement which gives four Iowa law firms 44-million dollars for pursuing the lawsuit against the tobacco industry. Representative Chuck Larson, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, says that’s a “phenomenal” amount of money. Larson says it works out to 27-hundred dollars an hour. He says the highest paid attorneys in Iowa only make about 250 dollars and hour.Larson, who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, plans to change the rules for future contracts which hire private attorneys to sue for the state.Larson says in the future, the Attorney General should let all attorneys in the state compete to do the state’s business rather than hand-picking the firms, as was done in the tobacco case.In addition, Larson wants any contingency fee contract — like the one in the tobacco settlement — to be reviewed by the Legislative Council. That’s a panel of two-dozen legislative leaders.Larson also wants to cap any attorneys fees at one-thousand dollars an hour in such huge settlement cases. The 44-million dollar pay-out is much less than what was approved by Governor Branstad. That deal would have paid the attorneys more than 200-million.
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