In the last few weeks, the Missouri General Assembly made significant progress on several tort reform bills. I believe this area of legislation is very important to the economic health of our state. By facilitating an environment conducive to business activity, we can increase wages and attract new jobs, thereby benefiting Missourians of all backgrounds.
The legislature has given its final approval to Senate Bill 30, which will soon be sent to the governor for his consideration. This bill, which I sponsored and have written about before, allows a plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt to be admissible as evidence of comparative negligence in a product liability lawsuit involving an automobile. This serves the dual purpose of both creating fairer court procedures in which a jury is able to come to a broader understanding of the causes of a plaintiff’s injuries, and encouraging general seat belt safety.
The legislature has also given its final approval to Senate Bill 7, which alters and clarifies rules of joinder and venue for civil lawsuits filed in Missouri courts. I’ve written about this bill before as well. Simply put, this legislation is designed to limit forum shopping, the practice by which plaintiffs, often from out of state, try to have their cases heard in the most sympathetic court.
Lastly, the Senate has given preliminary approval to Senate Bill 224, which modifies Missouri Supreme Court rules relating to discovery. This bill brings our state rules of civil procedure closer to those used in federal courts, streamlining the discovery process by disallowing endless interrogatories and depositions. I believe this would create a more equitable judicial system.