Fee & Cost Statutes

Statutes often refer to awards of “costs” or “fees.” “Costs” and “fees,” however, are not synonymous.  Smith v. City of St. Louis, 395 S.W.3d
20, 26 (Mo. 2013). Unless there is statutory authorization, or a contract calling for a shift of fees, litigants must generally bear their own attorney fees, win or lose.  Clayton Terrace Subd. v. 6 Clayton Terrace, 585 S.W.3d 269, 285 (Mo. 2019). Contractual or statutory authorization for attorney fees must be “explicit.” Wagner v. Nolan, 545 S.W.3d 373, 376 (Mo. App. W.D. 2018). General references to “all expenses” or “all costs” are “insufficient to authorize the award of attorney fees.” Id. In a similar vein, “statutes allowing taxation of costs are strictly construed.” Roland v. St. Louis City Board of Election Commissioners, 590 S.W.3d 315, 322 (Mo. 2019).

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