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Nixon urged to sign tort reform bills as means to winning ‘Border War’

Associated Industries of Missouri is grateful for the support from this nationwide organization in its efforts to improve the tort environment for Missouri business and industry.

From a press release from the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA)

Citing this morning’s coverage by National Public Radio of the so-called “border war” between Missouri and Kansas, wherein the states offer dueling tax incentives to lure businesses and jobs back and forth across their shared border, the American Tort Reform Association today pointed out that “two reasonable, mainstream tort reform bills now awaiting Gov. Jay Nixon’s signature would also motivate businesses from across the country to bring jobs to Missouri.”

“The NPR report noted a Hall Family Foundation estimate of roughly $550 million in tax revenues over five years that Missouri and Kansas had gone without because of the respective incentives they’d offered to various businesses in their competition for jobs,” began ATRA president Tiger Joyce.  “That’s money that can’t be spent on schools, roads and police unless more revenue can be squeezed out of other taxpayers.

“But there are others ways to compete for jobs,” Joyce added.  “If two civil justice reform bills now sitting on Gov. Nixon’s desk are signed into law, businesses will have another important reason to look favorably on Missouri as a home for their operations – and it won’t cost taxpayers a dime.

“The only folks who’ll feel a financial pinch if the governor signs these bills will be the wealthy personal injury lawyers who tried desperately to block their passage in the legislature.  These are the same lawyers whose often meritless lawsuits have turned Missouri into what my organization calls a ‘judicial hellhole’ while earning the state a new nickname: ‘The Show Me Your Lawsuits State.’”

The two pending civil justice reform bills Joyce references are aimed, respectively, at bringing Missouri’s standard for expert testimony into line with that of all federal courts and a sizeable majority of state courts; and allowing what is known as collateral source evidence at trial when a defendant wants to show jurors that some or much of a plaintiffs’ damages have already been paid by a third party not involved in the lawsuit.

“The hard reality is that states must compete for jobs and economic growth.  But dueling tax incentives that weaken critical revenue streams are not the only means of competition.  And if Gov. Nixon signs these key tort reform measures into law, he can make Missouri more attractive to businesses and less inviting to the kind of lawsuits that only serve to shrink tax revenues by driving jobs and growth to less litigious states,” Joyce concluded.

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