Sen. Eric Burlison seeks to curb frivolous slack-fill lawsuits
Missouri is currently a battleground for a type of cash-grab lawsuit that is taking up valuable court time and resources in our state’s taxpayer-funded judicial system.
“We call ourselves the Show-Me State but unfortunately, Missouri has become the Sue-Me State,” said Sen. Eric Burlison (R-Republic).
Burlison is fighting to curb frivolous lawsuits involving slack-fill, the empty space included in some product packaging to prevent damage during shipping and storing. These class action lawsuits typically allege that a package does not contain enough of the product inside. These cases continue to be filed in Missouri despite the fact that standard labeling includes the weight or quantity of product a package holds, making it implausible for a reasonable consumer to claim they were tricked by the shape or size of the product’s container.
On April 2, Burlison brought Senate Bill 498 before a Senate committee. His bill would help bring an end to slack-fill lawsuits in Missouri, freeing up more court resources for legitimate cases. It would also help keep product prices low for consumers because businesses would no longer have to fund costly legal defenses against these lawsuits.
The Missouri Chamber is a leading advocate for common-sense reforms to the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, which was originally enacted to prohibit deceptive practices in the sale of products and services but over the years has eroded to allow situations like this.
“These lawsuits can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees,” said Matt Panik, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs. “A reasonable consumer is capable of understanding a label that states the amount of product a package contains. Slack-fill cases against businesses selling clearly-labeled products should have no place in Missouri courtrooms.”