AIM priority tort reform bill advances
May 7, 2020 - Senate Bill 591, a bill sponsored by Sen. Bill White to address punitive damage reforms and make changes to Missouri's Merchandising Practices Act, advanced from a House committee last evening.
Associated Industries of Missouri, the state's oldest employer trade association, firmly supports the bill. AIM President and CEO Ray McCarty sent a letter to the Speaker of the House, Majority Floor Leader, Committee Chairman Ron Hicks and all members of the Special Committee on Regulatory Oversight and Reform expressing support for the bill.
"I write today to express Associated Industries of Missouri’s support for SS#2 SCS SB 591, a bill that reforms court procedure when punitive damages are sought by a plaintiff. I am NOT testifying in person due to the COVID-19 situation, out of respect for Committee members and other House members. I would appreciate being entered into the Committee hearing minutes.
"The current legal environment encourages plaintiffs to threaten punitive damages, often as a means of encouraging a more lucrative settlement of actual damages for plaintiffs and their attorneys.
"The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant – not to recover actual damages. The bill makes responsible changes by including some aspects of similar punitive damages laws in other states and ensuring punitive damage awards are available for intentional acts and egregious behavior that, according to the judge and/or jury, deserves punishment.
"This is an appropriately stronger requirement than current law and we urge your support of the bill," said McCarty.
The bill will next be considered by the House Committee on Rules - Administrative Oversight, chaired by Rep. Holly Rehder, then will move to the House floor for further consideration. The 2020 Legislative Session concludes at 6:00 p.m. Friday, May 15, 2020.