Missouri Business Headlines

New legal climate ranking underscores the need for 2017 session’s tort reform push

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The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform has published a new ranking of state legal climates, placing Missouri 49th in the nation. This ranking does not factor in the newly enacted legal reforms passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Eric Greitens earlier this year.

The latest report paints a dismal picture of Missouri’s legal climate prior to this year’s reforms. The report singles out St. Louis as being one of the least fair places in the nation to face litigation. It says Missouri is worst in the nation when it comes to venue laws. The state is 49th in damages, trial judge impartiality and jury fairness. The state’s overall ranking of 49th in the nation is a drop from two years ago, when Missouri was ranked 42nd. In 2012 Missouri was 34th in the legal climate ranking.

“Missouri’s business community has long struggled under a deteriorating legal climate. This was well-known among business leaders in our state — and unfortunately it has become well-known outside Missouri as well. Our state’s poor legal climate has hurt our ability to compete for business investment and economic growth opportunities,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The good news is most of the concerns in this year’s study have been addressed by the legislature and Gov. Eric Greitens. It’s a new day in our state and our legal climate is vastly improved from where we were just months ago. The latest ranking simply underscores why the business community had been calling for comprehensive tort reform and further validates the actions taken by the legislature and the governor.”

The important legal reforms passed into law in Missouri this year include:

  • House Bill 153, which raises expert witness standards in Missouri and helps stop junk evidence from influencing court decisions.
  • Senate Bill 31, which allows courts to consider whether a plaintiff’s losses have been covered or reduced through other sources and helps stop trial attorneys from overstating damages to trigger windfall-sized awards.
  • Senate Bill 43, which reforms Missouri’s employment law standards while ensuring that businesses engaging in the unacceptable act of discrimination are held accountable.
  • Senate Bill 66, which fixes the Missouri Supreme Court’s 2014 Templemire decision and raises the standard of proof in worker’s compensation discrimination lawsuits.

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