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AIM supports two legal reform bills in hearing

HB 489, sponsored by Rep. Bruce DeGroot, would reform the way punitive damage claims are made and handled by Missouri courts. Rep. Curtis Trent presented the bill in a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday night on behalf of Rep. DeGroot who was helping with flood relief efforts at the time of the hearing. The Committee is chaired by Rep. David Gregory.

The bill would allow punitive damages for actions that are more than just negligent – actions that truly require punishment by the Court to prevent future similar actions. The way in which the motions for punitive damages are made and the manner in which they are handled by the courts is also addressed in the bill. Associated Industries of Missouri and a host of other business organizations supported the bill. No action was taken by the Committee on the bill.

Rep. Curtis Trent

HB 186, sponsored by Rep. Curtis Trent, would provide a statute of repose in Missouri. Missouri currently has statutes of repose that are limited to certain transactions, unlike other states that have broader statutes.

The statute of repose under the bill would be placed at 15 years from the date the product was purchased, meaning a claim may be brought against the manufacturer for defects within that time. However, items subject to government safety recalls are excluded from this limitation, and claims regarding goods with warranties longer than 15 years are allowed if filed within two years after expiration of the warranty period. Other exceptions are also provided for diseases that have a latency period greater than 15 years and other reasons.

Associated Industries of Missouri President/CEO Ray McCarty testified in support of the bill and answered the Committee members’ questions regarding recalled airbags (excluded from the bill) and products with longer warranty periods (excepted as provided above).

No action was taken by the Committee on the bill.

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