Missouri Governor Signs Bill to Limit Lawsuits Against Businesses

July 6, 2020

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on July 1 signed a bill that’s part of a business-backed effort to rein in lawsuits against businesses in the state.

The law deals with lawsuits seeking money for injuries or other harm caused by businesses’ products or actions.

In liability lawsuits, plaintiffs can be awarded money to compensate them for their injuries or the harm done to them. In some cases, plaintiffs can be awarded additional money — called punitive damages — intended to punish defendants for their actions.

Business groups contend it has become too easy for plaintiffs to seek punitive damages and thus pressure businesses into larger settlements.

The law Parson signed will allow punitive damages only when proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant “intentionally harmed” someone “without just cause” or acted with “deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others.”

It also prohibits punitive damage claims from being included when a lawsuit is initially filed, instead requiring plaintiffs to first show a reasonable basis for punitive damages before such claims could be added.

Another provision puts more restrictions on lawsuits against businesses for selling faulty products or making misleading business claims.

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