Associated Industries of Missouri President and CEO Ray McCarty believes that present tort form abuse in Missouri has snowballed with large judgments awarded to plaintiffs with little or no connection to Missouri. He says it has led to an explosion of cases adjudicated by judges and juries who may not share the same values as the claimant.
“For example, many cases that have similar claims against a common defendant may be moved into the City of St. Louis, even though only 1 of 100 claimants are actually residents of St. Louis,” McCarty, who is also the Associated Industries of Missouri president and CEO, told The Louisiana Record. “When this happens, Missouri courts are burdened and unable to provide service to Missourians.”
Furthermore, because of the current state of the law, such cases are heard distinctly. “St. Louis City in our example, may be adjudicated differently than where the case may be more properly heard in the claimant's or defendant's home jurisdiction, for example,” McCarty said.
As for Gov. Erick Greiten's call for reform, McCarty said, "While we introduced bills to improve Missouri's legal climate in the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions, less than four were actually passed and signed into law.”
Ray McCarty www.missouriviewpoints.com
“We passed reform that will establish the same standard for evaluating experts as is used in federal courts in Missouri (Daubert standard), ensure that costs recovered are actual costs that were paid by the claimant or on behalf of the claimant (collateral source),” McCarty said, noting that a law also was enacted to protect business owners from being sued by persons who were injured trespassing.
“Most significant of all, is a discrimination standard that mirrors federal human rights laws, one that requires the discrimination be a 'motivating factor' rather than the artificially low 'contributing factor' created by liberal judges in Missouri,” McCarty said.
He added real reform will come when and only when “we pass significant tort reform measures, like the venue and joinder statutes, before we will see an end to our ranking as a top ‘judicial hellhole.’”
However time is important, according to McCarty. “Business men and women have choices of locations when deciding to expand or locate in a state. Falling victim to a lawsuit can bankrupt a business, so the legal environment matters,” he said.
McCarty added accumulating verdicts pile up against businesses, making businesses "less likely to locate in states that have not addressed significant legal reform - laws that allow the fair administration of justice to everyone equally, including business citizens."
He concluded by noting Associated Industries of Missouri is proud to have supported significant tort reform measures for decades. “We will continue to try to reform the legal environment in Missouri, despite the efforts of plaintiffs' attorneys to the contrary,” McCarty said.