Missouri legislature considering two civil justice reform proposals

By Gabriel Neves | Apr 29, 2019

JEFFERSON CITY – Several proposals that aim at reforming civil justice in the state of Missouri are now being considered in the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 7 aims at reforming the civil justice in regards to the awards on combined lawsuits.

The legislation "aims to put a limit on large awards for cases where multiple plaintiffs combine lawsuits," as previously reported by the St. Louis Record.

It originated from a recent ruling.

"The legislation is partly driven by a verdict in St. Louis City Circuit Court where 22 women were awarded $4.7 billion on claims that Johnson & Johnson baby powder led to them being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Many of the plaintiffs in that case were not Missouri residents," the report stated.

Richard AuBuchon, director of the Missouri Civil Justice Reform Coalition, told the St. Louis Record that SB 7 is most likely to pass and become law.

"I expect that Senate Bill 7 were to pass the House and become law after being signed by the governor - and it should be signed by the governor - that it will end 'forum-shopping' in Missouri," AuBuchon said.

The bill is currently in the House Rules Committee.

House Bill 231 is also another bill seeking to place restrictions on litigation in St. Louis courts.

As previously reported by the St. Louis Record, "the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 12 heard arguments over House Bill 231, a proposal that would effectively place restrictions on who can sue and be sued in St. Louis, a court system where fewer than 10 percent of the thousands of mass tort litigants are residents of the state."

Among the provisions of the HB 231, per the report, the bill "would allow joinder of two or more plaintiffs in an action only if each one could have filed an action in that venue independently of any other," and it would also "allow any party to sever all claims brought by a misjoined plaintiff and transfer them where venue exists."

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