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Posted in Blog on January 25, 2019   |  by Gary Burger

Tort Deform - 2019

With the new year comes a new political landscape for attorneys and their clients. Since this time last year, Missouri has seen changes in Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, U.S. Senator and numerous house and senate seats throughout the state. These office holders and the laws they propose and pass can have a tremendous effect on our clients.

The Missouri legislator began their 100th session in Jefferson City. For all lawyers and fans of our civil judicial system, watch out for tort reform.

Every year business interest and lobbyist try to roll back Americans rights under the 7th Amendment to the Constitution, and this year is no different. They lobby and market to try to say that people ripped off by individuals or companies that lie to them or cheat them, or break the safety rules that protect us all, shouldn’t be held responsible for their actions.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial in civil cases. This includes the right of a plaintiff to have his or her damages (i.e., the amount of money he or she receives) determined by a jury. Time and time again, we have seen certain legislators in Missouri attempt to restrict this right.

Specifically, we anticipate that the legislature will

  • try to protect product manufacturers who negligently make and sell dangerous or faulty products - limit who can bring products liability cases and the amount of damages that can be awarded in products liability cases
  • further attack consumer safety in 2019
  • further restrict where lawsuits can be brought this session. Under current Missouri law, a lawsuit with multiple lawsuits can be brought in any venue, so long as venue would be proper for one of the defendants. The legislature is attempting to make it so claims cannot be joined in this manner. This would mean that a single plaintiff would have to file multiple lawsuits against defendants in different venues.

As we know, we already have tort reform in Missouri and every other State. Many restraints on where someone can file a lawsuit, caps on certain kinds of damages, time limits to pursue claims, strong restraints on the kinds of evidence that can get in before a jury already exists and are already more than adequately levels the playing fields.

If we do more tort reform our civil justice system will go to:

Remember if you ever talk to you representatives for see these articles as we go this year in politics that we need a level playing field and fairness for all, which is one of the things that makes America great.

The way it is supposed to work is that it does not matter if you are rich or poor when you come to Court that you get a fair trial. Instead, what these companies try to do is make the playing field uneven and gaining advantage before it ever starts. The want to start on the 50-yard line rather than the 20 in their drive to succeed in defeating claims against them.

My little email and newsletter and my opinion is not going to nearly mark it as well as the area Chambers of Commerce and others get their false message out. So, remember to keep these ideas as a filter when you hear these bogus messages from the folks trying to wreck the Missouri Court plan and our civil justice system.

No matter what twists the legislators throw at us, Burger Law will continue to represent our clients with the skill, knowledge, and experience necessary to achieve great results. If you have questions about how legislative action may affect your case, please give us a call.