ATRA Cheers Enactment of ‘Expert Witness’ Reform, Says Old Standard Helped Make Missouri the ‘Show Me Your Lawsuits State’

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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2017 – With Gov. Eric Greitens expected to sign a key tort reform bill into law today, the American Tort Reform Association pointed again “to the […]


WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2017 – With Gov. Eric Greitens expected to sign a key tort reform bill into law today, the American Tort Reform Association pointed again “to the irrefutable fact that Missouri’s previously lax and antiquated standard for admitting expert testimony had helped make Missouri’s recent reputation as the ‘Show Me Your Lawsuits State.’”

ATRA president Tiger Joyce congratulated lawmakers “for finally overcoming the relentless obfuscation by politically powerful personal injury lawyers and the many plaintiff-friendly judges those lawyers help elect.  This is a victory for science and justice, and for a new reform-minded governor who has been very straightforward about his intentions to reduce the drag that meritless lawsuits have imposed on Missouri’s economy for too long.”

The most obvious example of such meritless litigation, Joyce continued, “can be found in the parade of nearly 2,500 out-of-state talcum powder plaintiffs lined up to sue out-of-state defendants in St. Louis, at significant expense to in-state taxpayers.  With so-called ‘expert’ testimony that’s been barred elsewhere, these plaintiffs groundlessly allege that talc use causes ovarian cancer.

“But the new standard for such testimony, signed into law today, will bring Missouri courts into alignment with all federal courts and 39 other state court systems that require judges to act as gatekeepers for scientific evidence.  Before a jury is exposed to an expert’s theory in a case, the judge will evaluate it and determine if it’s based on peer-reviewed research generally accepted by others in the field.”

Joyce reminded lawmakers that the latest edition of ATRA’s annual Judicial Hellholes report, released late last year, named St. Louis as the nation’s most unfair civil court jurisdiction.

“So, the enactment of H.B. 153 is a very important step in the right direction.  But as Governor Greitens made clear, barely seven minutes into his State of the State Address in January, there are still a number of civil justice reforms left for lawmakers to pass and send to his desk.

“Among them are a much needed reform of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, which now does far more to enrich trial lawyers than it does to protect consumers, changes to the so-called collateral source rule, and venue and joinder reforms that will further curb the brazen forum-shopping we’ve seen in St. Louis,” Joyce concluded.

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