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Posted in In the News on April 11, 2017   |  by Gary Burger

New Expert Statute

Governor Greitens just signed a bill into law changing the standard for expert testimony. This is the first law passed in Greitens major tort reform plan and only his second bill signed into law. The new statute (formerlyt HB153) can be found here and its history is here.

It goes into effect August 28, 2017 and requires Missouri courts to follow the “Daubert” standard when admitting Expert testimony. This is a heightened standard of evidence and will require courts to engage in “Daubert” hearings to approve the expertise and opinions of scientific witnesses.

Missouri’s old standard of evidence stated in RSMO. 490.065, required that experts testify on scientific evidence which was, "reasonably relied upon by experts in the field."

The new standard adopts verbatim the language of Federal Rule of Evidence 702 which states that an expert may testify on “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge…” when “the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data; the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the factors of the case.” The new language will raise the standard required for parties to introduce expert testimony.

As Judge Kozinski explained in his remand opinion of the Daubert case, this higher standard puts judges in an “uncomfortable position” and requires judges often untrained in science to weigh the merits of scientific evidence, rather than submitting all relevant evidence to the jury. His opinon can be found here.

Currently Federal courts and 38 states use the Daubert standard. A 2002 study showed that since the Daubert standard was articulated by the Supreme Court the percentage of scientific testimony excluded from evidence significantly rose and successful motions for summary judgement doubled, 90% of which were against Plaintiffs.

Gov. Greitens and other proponents of the law state that it will encourage more businesses and jobs to come to Missouri. However, Missouri trial judges have opposed the bill arguing that these new evidentiary hearings will clog up trial dockets and slow down the civil court system.

Greitens continues his attacks on injured Missourians to help foreign insurance companies who contributed to his campaign. The sole insurance company headquartered in Missouri is Missouri Employer's Mutual and it writes solely workers compensation insurance. The new expert statute does not apply to work comp.

The additional changes Gov. Gritens has proposed include changing the collateral source rule, overhauling the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, and changing the Missouri employment discrimination standard. These sweeping changes challenge Missouri plaintiffs seeking fair compensation for their injuries from unsafe defendants and insurance companies.