House Republicans pass bill creating new lawsuits against employers as tort reform languishes
April 25, 2022 - We reported last week the Missouri House gave initial approval to a bill by Rep. Mitch Boggs that would establish liability of employers that require employees to receive an immunization if the employee incurs damages or injury arising from the required immunization. HB 1692 is also known as the "Required Immunization Liability Act." It would apply to ALL required immunizations, not just COVID-19.
"This bill is a plaintiffs' attorney dream, due to the loose language and broad liability it establishes for employers," said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. "The language does not require the employee to show the vaccination was the primary reason for the damages or injury - only that the damage or injury 'arose from' the required immunization," he said.
As with all bills that interfere with an employer's right to require vaccinations if they make a business decision to do so, AIM is opposed, but particularly opposed to the language of this bill that leaves employers requiring immunizations open to lawsuits from employees for any perceived damages or injury they believe is related to the required immunization, with no required standard of proof.
The bill was sent to the Senate with heavy Republican support 84-58.
Yet, while Republicans in the House supported this new action against employers, tort reform measures have not been passed and, with three weeks to go, passage appears unlikely. Issues include:
Reducing the statute of limitations to be in line with other states;
Protecting employers from asbestos lawsuits when trust fund money is available for such claims;
Preventing plaintiffs' attorneys from inflating costs of lawsuits by using amounts billed but never paid;
Stopping lawsuits against manufacturers for similar products not manufactured by them;
Preventing holding other parties responsible for liability of parties that have settled out of a lawsuit; and,
Establishing a statute of repose to protect manufacturers from frivolous manufacturing defect lawsuits decades after a product has been manufactured.
It is our hope the Missouri Legislature will prioritize issues that benefit businesses in the final three weeks of the legislative session and take action on these issues.
The vote on HB 1692, the Required Immunization Liability Act that allows employers to be sued by employees for side effects that may result from a required immunization, was as follows:
AYES: 84 (All Republicans)
Atchison, Bailey, Baker, Basye, Billington, Black 7, Boggs, Bromley, Brown 16, Buchheit-Courtway, Burger, Busick, Chipman, Coleman 32, Coleman 97, Cook, Copeland, Davidson, Davis, Dinkins, Eggleston, Evans, Falkner, Fishel, Fitzwater, Francis, Gregory 51, Grier, Griffith, Haden, Haffner, Hardwick, Henderson, Houx, Hovis, Hudson, Hurlbert, Kalberloh, Kelley 127, Kelly 141, Kidd, Knight, Lewis 6, Lovasco, Mayhew, McDaniel, McGirl, Morse, Murphy, O'Donnell, Owen, Patterson, Perkins, Pike, Plocher, Pollock 123, Porter, Pouche, Railsback, Richey, Riggs, Riley, Roden, Rone, Sassmann, Schnelting, Schroer, Seitz, Sharpe 4, Shaul, Simmons, Smith 155, Stacy, Tate, Taylor 139, Taylor 48, Thomas, Toalson Reisch, Trent, Van Schoiack, Speaker Vescovo, West, Wiemann, and Wright.
NOES: 58 (13 Republicans, 45 Democrats)
Adams, Aldridge, Anderson, Andrews, Appelbaum, Aune, Bangert, Baringer, Barnes, Bland Manlove, Bosley, Brown 27, Brown 70, Burnett, Burton, Butz, Christofanelli, Clemens, Collins, Deaton, DeGroot, Dogan, Doll, Fogle, Gray, Gunby, Haley, Ingle, Johnson, Lewis 25, Mackey, McCreery, McGaugh, Merideth, Mosley, Nurrenbern, Person, Phifer, Pollitt 52, Proudie, Quade, Roberts, Rogers, Sander, Sauls, Schwadron, Shields, Smith 45, Smith 67, Smith 163, Stevens 46, Terry, Turnbaugh, Unsicker, Walsh Moore 93, Weber, Windham, and Young.
ABSENT: 14 (11 Republicans, 3 Democrats)
Black 137, Cupps, Derges, Ellebracht, Gregory 96, Hicks, Pietzman, Price IV, Reedy, Sharp 36, Stephens 128, Thompson, Veit, and Walsh 50.
The legislative session will end on May 13, 2022.