JEFFERSON CITY – For Missouri Sen. Ed Emery (R - District 31), the conclusion of the Missouri General Assembly in early June brought positive news and much-needed reform to the governor’s desk. He also said the state now needs to look to punitive damage reform and the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.
“Those kinds of things are going to be helpful to Missouri and I think they are significant to reforms that needed to be done here,” Emery said. “I know there is still other things that need to be done. Our Merchandising Practice Act needs some work. Some of the punitive indemnities that Sen. [Bill] White worked on, I’d like to see us accomplish those as well.”
White was the sponsor of Senate Bill No. 65. His bill, which was moved to perfection in May, provides that punitive damages "shall only be awarded if the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally harmed the plaintiff without just cause or acted with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others, and the plaintiff is awarded more than nominal damages."
The reform would update the state’s current two-phase procedure for punitive damage claims in which a jury determines liability, compensatory damages and the liability for punitive damages, and determines the amount of punitive damages as a second step.
Emery said the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act should become a priority in the coming sessions.
“The MMPA certainly needs some reform,” he said. “There have been times in the past when maybe we tried to go too far, but since then we have done some work in the MMPA. I think some of the reforms that were proposed this year need to be cut back next year and we need to take another run at it.”
A number of bills, including Senate Bill 62 and Senate Bill 276, which modify provisions for unlawful merchandising practices, were moved to perfection in May.