State hires law firm in pension lawsuit

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The state has retained law firm Alston and Bird as its outside counsel in the lawsuit challenging the state’s new pension contribution requirements, according to a Department of Management Services contract signed August 3, reports the News Service of Florida. Alston and Bird has offices throughout the country, but none in Florida. The agreement was signed with the firm’s Atlanta office. The Florida Education Association and other union groups  filed a lawsuit against the state in June, saying a new law that requires Florida Retirement System members to contribute 3 percent of their salaries towards their retirement fund is unlawful and unconstitutional. The state approved initial fees of up to $60,000, but the St. Petersburg Times noted Thursday that a total contract approved by Bondi includes up to $500,000 in legal fees. The contract allows for hourly rates of $495 for 10 Alston and Bird lawyers. Named in the suit are Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater  because they are trustees over the Florida Retirement System. Members of the FRS include public schools, state agencies, counties, universities and colleges.

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