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Miss America Organization 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.
Credit: AP
FILE - Virginia's Camille Schrier, left, walks the stage after winning the Miss America competition at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn., Dec. 19, 2019.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — There 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 runs the annual competition, which has generated controversy for years, had a January 2018 contract with BCLP for legal services.

But the Miss America Organization failed to pay Bryan Cave “for the majority of the legal services rendered,” according to an affidavit from Gino Serra, a partner in the law firm.

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

BCLP sought payment and though the Miss America Organization paid for “some of the services rendered,” the law firm terminated its representation of the company due to failure to pay, Serra said in the affidavit.

Citing a provision in the legal services contract, BCLP in May 2020 filed for arbitration with JAMS, a for-profit venture which stands for Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services Inc.

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

They made an award against the Miss America Organization totaling $926,248. The amount starts with the $717,485 that was due when BCLP terminated its representation and 9% interest per year dating to March 1, 2021.

Click here for the full story from the St. Louis Business Journal.

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