Miss America ordered to pay St. Louis law firm nearly $1M

The Miss America organization failed to pay Bryan Cave “for the majority of the legal services rendered”, according to an affidavit.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Here she goes… nearly $1 million to one of the largest law firms in the St. Louis area.

That’s the amount a St. Louis County Circuit Court judge recently ordered the Miss America organization to pay Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) for breach of contract.

The New Jersey-based company that organizes the annual competition, which has sparked controversy for years, had entered into a contract in January 2018 with BCLP for legal services.

But the Miss America Organization did not pay Bryan Cave “for the majority of the legal services rendered,” according to an affidavit from Gino Serra, a partner at the law firm.

A section of the contract states that BCLP “reserves the right to charge a late penalty in the form of interest on any statement not paid within 30 days of the date of the statement at the legal interest rate.”

BCLP requested payment and although the Miss America organization paid for “some of the services rendered”, the law firm ended its representation of the company due to non-payment, Serra said in the affidavit.

Citing a provision of the Legal Services Agreement, BCLP in May 2020 filed for arbitration with JAMS, a for-profit company that stands for Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services Inc.

Two retired judges – former St. Louis County Circuit Judge Barbara Wallace and Lawrence Mooney, who served more than 20 years on the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals – and attorney Bradley Winters handled the arbitration.

They awarded against the Miss America organization for a total of $926,248. The amount begins with the $717,485 that was owed when BCLP terminated its representation and interest of 9% per annum since March 1, 2021.

Click here to read the full St. Louis Business Journal article.

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