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"Empty chair" defense bill approved by Senate committee

February 22, 2021 - Senate Bill 171, filed by Sen. Bill White, has advanced from the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, chaired by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer.

The bill provides that a claim by a defendant or third-party defendant that a nonparty is at fault may be an affirmative defense for each party in the action that a specific percentage of fault that caused the damages is attributable to persons from whom the plaintiff does not seek recovery. Any party may raise the defense at any time before trial and the identity of any nonparty claimed to be at fault shall also be affirmatively pleaded if known to the party making the claim.


Associated Industries of Missouri joined the Missouri Civil Justice Reform Coalition, Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers, Missouri Hospital Association, BNSF, the Missouri Railroad Association, Missouri Retailers Association and the state and federal chambers of commerce in supporting the bill.


The only group opposing the bill at the hearing was the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.

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