Missouri Business Headlines

A litigation destination: House votes to end out-of-state venue shopping

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Missouri has long been a destination for out-of-state trial attorneys seeking friendly courts and big paydays. The state’s welcoming judicial venue laws make it easy to move a case here—just name a Missouri business as one of the defendants. Even if that business is later dismissed, the case can stay in Missouri.

This practice would end under House Bill 460, sponsored by Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer, a Republican from Odessa. Rep. Kolkmeyer’s bill was passed by the Missouri House of Representatives and now heads to the Senate.

Missouri currently has one of the worst legal climates in the nation, according to two national organizations. Out-of-state plaintiffs regularly seek to exploit this by bringing their cases to the state. The way Missouri’s laws are currently interpreted, out-of-state lawyers have an easy path to move cases here where they can try to win outlandish judgments against out-of-state businesses. These cases—ultimately between two out-of-state parties—can slow down the state’s court system and get in the way of timely resolution of legal disputes between parties based in Missouri.

“This bill is an important part of our work in 2017 to remake and reform Missouri’s legal climate. If we want to change our state’s national reputation as a haven for frivolous lawsuits, we have discard the legal welcome mat Missouri currently has set out for trial attorneys from across the nation,” said Brian Bunten, Missouri Chamber general counsel and director of legislative affairs. “Ridding our state court system of far-flung lawsuits will re-duce costs and help Missouri courts operate more efficiently, allowing them to focus on Missouri-related legal disputes.”

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the largest business association in Missouri. Together, with the Missouri Chamber Federation, the Missouri Chamber represents more than 75,000 employers. To learn more, go to www.mochamber.com, or follow us @MissouriChamber on Twitter.

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