Missouri Gov. Mike Parson Signs Landmark Civil Justice Reform Bill Into Law

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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed S.B. 591 to amend Missouri’s consumer protection act and the state’s punitive damages system.

Today, Governor Michael Parson (R) signed into law S.B. 591, sponsored by Sen. Bill White, to amend the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) and the standards by which punitive damages are awarded. 

“Gov. Parson’s signature on S.B. 591 is a win for Missourians who suffer the effects of lawsuit abuse and sends a strong signal to those bad actors who would abuse the system ” ATRA President Tiger Joyce said. 

Research shows excessive tort litigation in Missouri results in a loss of $2 billion in personal income annually and a loss of 32,205 jobs. The excess costs result in a “tort tax” of $505.21 per person.

“Protecting Missouri businesses and equipping them with the tools to succeed has always been a priority of my administration,” Gov. Parson said in a statement. “I am proud to sign S.B. 591, which will stop the unfair and unreasonable litigation our businesses face. This bill shows that Missouri is open for business and strikes a fair balance between protecting Missouri employers and employees from frivolous claims while ensuring the ability of those harmed to seek relief in court.” 

The MMPA is known among trial lawyers as an overly broad consumer protection act that can be taken advantage of easily as it allows for attorney’s fees and punitive damages. The frequency with which multimillion- and even multibillion-dollar awards come out of St. Louis courts show the need to reform Missouri’s punitive damages system. 

“We are grateful to Gov. Parson for his continued leadership and commitment to creating an equal, balanced system. We also appreciate the efforts of Senators Bill White, Tony Luetkemeyer, Eric Burlison, Andrew Koenig, Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, Senate President Dave Schatz, Speaker Elijah Haahr, House Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo, and Representative Bruce DeGroot in moving this bill through the process,” Joyce said. “Thank you all for your commitment to ensuring Missouri’s civil justice system is fair to all. This bill will reduce frivolous litigation and allow for greater access to the court system for those who need it most.”

The reforms in this legislation will help curb lawsuit abuse in the “Show Me Your Lawsuit” state which has been on the American Tort Reform Foundation’s list of “Judicial Hellholes” for many years. St. Louis is currently ranked No. 5.

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