Trial attorneys celebrate Missouri's abnormally long limit on bringing personal injury lawsuits
April 14, 2021 - Trial attorneys are rejoicing, and the business community lamenting, the Missouri Senate' inability to advance a bill that would shorten the abnormally long 5-year statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits to two years.
Missouri's ranks third from last in the length of time allowed to plaintiffs to bring a personal injury lawsuit. Only Maine and North Dakota have longer statutes of limitation at 6 years each. Forty-four states have statutes of limitation of three years or less.
The bill, SB 3, sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman, was the subject of debate in a lengthy Senate session that began Tuesday afternoon and extended into Wednesday morning. Ultimately, the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, and senators working on their behalf, made it clear there would be no deal to advance the statute of limitations bill this session, much to the disappointment of business advocates and the Senate sponsor.
"As is true much too often in the legislative process, the business community is once again forced to face the political reality that the plaintiffs' attorneys are very active in their financial support of senators of both parties in Missouri, and the result is the debacle we witnessed last night and this morning," said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. "We thank Sen. Hegeman for his courageous attempt to change the system, but in the end, the firm grip of MATA paralyzes the political process as plaintiffs' attorneys regularly reinvest a small portion of their multi-million-dollar awards in political contributions to help them and their allies in the Missouri Senate stop reasonable tort reform measures like this bill," he said.
Missouri has become a hotbed for personal injury lawsuits, with the City of St. Louis ranking at or near the top of the list of "judicial hellholes" prepared by the American Tort Reform Foundation.