Missouri Business Headlines

House gives first round approval to punitive damage reforms

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Far too often, trial lawyers in Missouri are using the threat of costly punitive damages to help drive up payouts from businesses. The Missouri House of Representatives is working to stop this practice.

On April 10, the House gave first round approval to House Bill 2119. The legislation seeks to fix a problem in Missouri where the possibility of punitive damages is being used to get businesses to agree to higher settlement amounts. The legislation perfected by the House would only allow punitive damages in cases where there is clear and convincing evidence of harm without just cause or excuse and a court determines punitive damages may be appropriate. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Kirk Mathews, a Republican from Pacific.

“Passing House Bill 2119 is an important step forward as we seek to eliminate the litany of legal tricks and loopholes that have led to Missouri being branded as having one of the worst legal climates in the nation,” said Justin Arnold, Missouri Chamber general counsel. “We applaud the Missouri House for continuing their focus on civil justice reform and moving this bill forward. Now we urge them to continue this work and send this important bill to the Senate.”

The House also perfected House Bill 1611 which reforms Missouri’s statute of repose laws, giving a plaintiff who has been injured by a product 10 years to file a lawsuit and seek damages.

Both bills are important components of the Missouri Chamber’s 2018 legislative agenda.

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