Senate works into the night on top tort reform bill as trial attorney friendly Senators block bill
April 7, 2022 - The Missouri Senate worked four hours last night, from around 7:30 p.m. until around 11:30 p.m. on business' top tort reform priority this session: reducing the statute of limitations in personal injury cases from 5 years to 2 years.
Missouri is an outlier with one of the longest statutes of limitations in the country, meaning cases may be brought in Missouri long after they may be brought in most other states.
The debate began with an amendment by two Democrat lawmakers that would have reversed the positive changes made in previous sessions to align Missouri's discrimination standard with the federal standard (Sen. Steven Roberts) and an amendment that would have expanded Missouri's Human Rights Act to specifically cover sexual orientation and gender identity (Sen. Greg Razer). The amendments failed as they were ruled to be outside the scope of the bill.
Then, Sen. Bill Eigel, Sen. Mike Moon, and several other Democrat senators took to the floor to speak on the bill at length. Sen. Eigel, a Republican from St. Charles, stated repeatedly his desire to be sure plaintiffs "have their day in court" while the bill's sponsor, Sen. Dan Hegeman a Republican from northwest Missouri, stated he also respected everyone having their day in court, but that businesses should not face lawsuits long past when those lawsuits could be brought in other states surrounding Missouri. Sen. Hegeman said he believed reforming the tort laws to bring Missouri in line with other states would help all Missouri businesses and citizens.
"Missouri businesses expect action from our 'pro-business' super-majority to eliminate this extremely lengthy statute of limitations, which leads to more trick-bag lawsuits, more settlements and verdicts against businesses that find it harder to defend themselves against claims when evidence and witnesses' memories have faded, and more money for plaintiff's attorneys and those Senators and Representatives that are beholden to them," said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. "Healthy debate is one thing, but we all know a filibuster when we see one, and we saw one last night without a doubt," he said.
The bill was "laid over" meaning debate may continue at a future time. The legislature only has five weeks to complete their business, including passage of the state budget.