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Gov. Parson signs trio of legal reform bills supported by AIM

July 10, 2019 – Governor Mike Parson today signed a trio of bills designed to make the judicial system in Missouri fairer.

Senate Bill 7, the venue/joinder bill, codifies a recent court decision that will clearly establish when tort cases belong in Missouri courts, particularly excluding tort cases with little or no connection to Missouri. Those cases should be brought in the states where the injuries occurred or where the parties reside. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery and handled in the House by Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer.

Senate Bill 30 pertains to seatbelt evidence in cases alleging an automobile manufacturing defect. The bill allows evidence of whether a person was wearing a seatbelt to be admitted into evidence and eliminates the current limit on the amount an award may be reduced if the judge and/or jury find the use of the seatbelt would have limited injuries. The current law only allows such awards to be reduced by a maximum of 1%, but the new law will allow judges and juries to decide the appropriate amount, if any, of such reduction. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman and handled in the House by Rep. Nick Schroer.

Senate Bill 224, the signing of which is pictured above, changes discovery rules in Missouri state courts, aligning them with federal rules of civil procedure observed in federal courts. The goal is to limit situations where an attorney will use discovery as a weapon in a legal dispute by making repeated requests for depositions and documents. Senator Tony Luetkemeyer sponsored the bill and Rep. Nick Schroer also handled this bill in the House.

“We applaud Gov. Parson’s signing of these bills as Missouri works to lose the ‘Judicial Hellhole’ designation bestowed upon our state courts by the American Tort Reform Association,” said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. “AIM has worked hard over the years to create a better legal environment and these bills help move Missouri in the right direction,” he said.

In a press release, Governor Parson said, “During this year’s session, we made major progress improving Missouri’s business climate. Today, we took a great step in bringing fairness to our courts and giving Missouri businesses the opportunity for competitive economic growth.”

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