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Collateral source reform is an important first step to balance Missouri’s civil justice system

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It’s no surprise that tort reform would be among the first bills reviewed by the Missouri General Assembly in the 2017 Legislative Session. Veto after veto by former Gov. Jay Nixon of common-sense legislation has left a long list of tort reforms, which Missouri’s business community hopes to advance this session.

A Senate committee heard testimony today on legislation to reform Missouri’s collateral source rule. The legislation is Senate Bill 31, sponsored by Republican Sen. Ed Emery.

The collateral source rule bars the admissibility of trial evidence showing when a plaintiff’s losses have been compensated from other sources, such as insurance, workers’ compensation or adjusted hospital billing. 

“Plaintiffs can make money bringing suits for injuries that may already be covered by other sources or claim phantom damages – a cost they never incurred,” said Brian Bunten, Missouri Chamber general counsel, who testified in support of the bill today.

The Missouri Chamber has been a lead advocate of this bill in recent legislative sessions.

“Our courts were intended to be a place where injured parties go to be made whole for real losses,” Bunten said. “Allowing people to use inflated damages to collect a windfall on an injury is unfair and unjust.”

Many states have advanced legislative measures to reform collateral source statutes and rein in awards that exceed actual recovery costs.  Missouri lawmakers also attempted to change the collateral source rule in 2005, but the courts have since altered the intent of the law.

Last legislative session, the Missouri General Assembly passed collateral source reform, a bill also sponsored by Sen. Emery, but it was vetoed by former Gov. Jay Nixon.

For more information on this issue, contact Brian Bunten at 573.634.3511.

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