The Missouri legislative session was filled with mixed results, but the Legislature should be commended for passing important reforms regarding seat belts, venues and e-discovery legislation. I applaud Gov. Mike Parson; Sens. Ed Emery, Caleb Rowden, Tony Luetkemeyer and Dan Hegeman; as well as Reps. David Gregory, Nick Schroer, Glen Kolkmeyer and Rob Vescovo for championing these important efforts.
Despite these successes, work remains to be done. The Legislature again failed to pass much-needed consumer protection reform, refusing to address the trial bar’s blatant abuses of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. Such reform was introduced five years ago, yet lawmakers continue to manufacture reasons for inaction. It is beyond dispute that cases come from all over the country to St. Louis because of lax venue rules and lucrative damages available under this act. Excessive tort costs in Missouri result in $1.6 billion in annual direct costs to the state’s economy.
The Legislature also failed to advance an asbestos trust transparency bill and punitive damages reform. The Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys lobbied against these efforts and the Senate succumbed to the pressure.
The governor has made it clear that civil justice reform is an important priority for his administration, yet he can only sign those bills sent to his desk. The onus falls on the Legislature to pass additional bills that will rid the state of its “show-me-your lawsuit” nickname and St. Louis’ status as a judicial hellhole.
Tiger Joyce • Washington, D.C.
American Tort Reform Association