Although Missouri common law states that businesses generally do not have a duty to protect individuals on their premises from criminal acts of third parties, confusing rulings by Missouri appellate courts have led to the need for clarification in this area.
This is the aim of Senate Bill 608, which the Missouri legislature gave a final passing vote on May 17.
Under the Business Premises Safety Act sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins, a business is only responsible for criminal or harmful acts on its property when it knows or has reason to know such acts are or are likely to be committed in a particular area and there is enough time to prevent it. A business can also claim as affirmative defenses that it had implemented reasonable security measures, the incident occurred when the business was closed, or that the claimant was a trespasser or committing a felony.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry strongly supports the bill.
“Without this legislation, businesses will continue to be treated too harshly in our courts and unfairly held responsible for crimes out of their control,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “We greatly appreciate Senator Hoskins’ leadership on this issue and the legislature’s work to pass a common-sense fix that brings much needed clarity to a muddied area of law and ensures Missouri businesses are protected from liability for third-party acts they have no ability to prevent.”
The bill now needs a signature from the governor to become law.