Missouri has paid more than $52 million over the last five years to settle lawsuits against various state agencies, according to information from the attorney general’s office.
The House budget committee received the list of settlements just before a public hearing on a bill that would require the attorney general to submit a monthly report to the Legislature detailing all activity regarding the state legal expense fund, The Kansas City Star reported. The fund is used to settle lawsuits against the state.
Most of the settlements pertain to litigation involving some type of discrimination. Of the 24 settlements paid out since the fiscal year began in July, 18 cases involved allegations of discrimination, harassment or retaliation.
The $52 million figure doesn’t include jury awards to plaintiffs that are still on appeal and haven’t been paid out, such as a $7 million judgment against the Department of Labor in a disability discrimination lawsuit. Another pending payout is a $3.7 million judgment against the Missouri Veterans Commission in an age and gender discrimination lawsuit.
The attorney general’s report shows that the Department of Corrections is responsible for roughly $4.5 million of the $52 million. The department has been involved in far more settlements paid out in the last five years than any other state agency.
But the problem isn’t isolated there, said House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, who is sponsoring the legislation.
“This is about transparency,” the Kansas City Democrat said. “These are public dollars, and while we’re dealing with a tight state budget, it’s even more important to have this information.”
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