St. Louis Record

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

MU law student calls on Missouri lawmakers to address MPPA abuse

Discipline

By Karen Kidd | Jun 24, 2019


| MorgueFile - ranbud

COLUMBIA – Missouri lawmakers need to address longstanding abuse of the state's consumer protection law, a student at University of Missouri's School of Law said in a blog post published in April.

Abuse of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MPPA) helped land the city of St. Louis at No. 4 on ATR Foundation's current "official hellholes" list and things show no signs of improvement, University of Missouri School of Law second-year law student Stefon David said in a blog post. The post was published on the university's website April 12.

"To remedy the issue, legislators need to genuinely contemplate the inequity the current laws impose on businesses, which in return afflicts Missouri residents," David said in the blog post. "Venue reform is needed to disincentivize forum-shopping from out-of-state plaintiffs. Additionally, Missouri must apply a reasonable consumer standard, which would shift the burden to consumers to show that their reliance upon the 'deceptive marketing' was reasonable."


University of Missouri School of Law second-year law student Stefon David | law.missouri.edu

Implementing such a standard would align Missouri with other states and would relieve courts of numerous so-called "no injury" suits, according to David's blog post.

"Correspondingly, the relationship between damages and attorney's fees must be reasonable, therefore removing the incentive for attorneys to pad their wallets instead of doing what is truly best for the consumer," the post said, adding that "a heightened standard to plead punitive damages is needed."

The blog post also called for limits on advertising that have led to a boom of talcum powder litigation ads in the St. Louis area media to ensure defendants can defend themselves in court before unbiased juries.

David holds an undergraduate degree in communications from Valparaiso University and has worked in a litigation firm in Kansas City, according to his biography on the university's website. David also became part of the Veterans Clinic in January.

In ranking St. Louis on its "hellhole list," despite optimism voiced in the report for its previous list, ATR Foundation cited "massive verdicts, blatant forum shopping, and legislative ineptitude" that have led to Missouri's nickname as the "Show Me Your Lawsuit" state.

"A reasonable observer would have to conclude that Republican lawmakers, who hold the majority in both legislative chambers, either condone lawsuit abuse and thus are aligned with the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys or are incapable of taking on a wealthy entrenched interest," ATR Foundation said in its current report. "Either way, Missouri’s 'Show Me Your Lawsuit State' nickname will remain as will the status of St. Louis as a Judicial Hellhole, so long as policymakers continue to pledge their allegiance to wealthy personal injury lawyers."

It won't be easy but lawmakers in Missouri should stand against MPPA abuse, David concluded in his blog post.

"There is no question that it is difficult to alter laws that limit consumer protection; however, legislators must restore proper balance between consumer protection and business interests as a corrective to the current flaws of Missouri’s tort system," the blog post said.

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