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Missouri House debates liability lawsuit reform

February 15, 2005
By: Tim Carnahan
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB393

A proposed law limits how much money Missourians could get from makers of defective products. Tim Carnahan has more from the Capitol.

The bill is under debate in the Missouri House.

It caps most punitive damage awards at 250-thousand dollars.

The bill also restricts where liability cases can be heard.

Saint Louis County Representative Richard Byrd, the bill's author, says plaintiffs now shop for friendly courts.

Actuality:BYRD1
RunTime: 12secs
OutCue: "...a plaintiff friendly venue."
Contents: "Plaintiffs will use any mechanism possible in order to get their cases to what they consider a plaintiff friendly venue."

Supporters say the bill will lower malpractice premiums for doctors.

Critics say the bill adds unfair protections to corporate interests like pharmaceutical and cigarette companies.

Governor Matt Blunt supports passage of the bill.

From the State Capitol, I'm Tim Carnahan.

A House bill would limit awards to Missourians hurt by defective products. Tim Carnahan has more from the Capitol.

The bill caps most punitive damage awards at 250-thousand dollars and restrict where liabilty cases could be heard.

Cases against corporations would be heard in the county of the corporation.

The law would also protect companies making drugs or devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Kansas City County Representative John Burnett says the bill unfairly protects drug and cigarette makers.

Actuality:BURNETT1
RunTime: 9secs
OutCue: "...mark of a civilized society."
Contents:

Supporters say the bill will lower malpractice premiums and keep business in Missouri.

Governor Blunt and House Repubican leaders strongly support the bill.

Reporting from the State Capitol, I'm Tim Carnahan.

Liability lawsuit limits are back in the spotlight. Tim Carnahan has more from the Capitol.

The Missouri House is discussing a bill that limits how much money injured Missourians could get from liability lawsuits.

Supporters say the bill will lower malpractice insurance and keep businesses from leaving Missouri.

The bill also puts a 250-thousand dollar cap on punitive damage awards.

Columbia Representative Jeff Harris says the bill doesn't address the issue.

Actuality:HARRIS1
RunTime: 7secs
OutCue:
Contents: "The point is not to compensate the aggrieved victim, it's to punish the wrongdoer."

Critics also criticize the cap because they say it does not allow for cost of living increases.

Lawmakers amended the bill to allow higher limits for Missourians who have lost a spouse or caretaker.

Reporting from the State Capitol, I'm Tim Carnahan.

A House bill limiting liability lawsuits could mean cheaper medical insurance for doctors...but some lawmakers say the bill won't lower rates.

Tim Carnahan has more from the Capitol.

The bill puts a 250-thousand dollar cap on punitive damages awarded in liability cases.

That amount would not be adjusted over time for cost-of-living increases.

Supporters say the bill will lower malpractice premiums and decrease frivolous lawsuits.

But Jackson County Representative Ray Salva says the bill falls short keeping insurance costs down.

Actuality:SALVA1
RunTime: 10secs
OutCue: "...that is not a possiblity."
Contents: "Not one single insurance company has said they will reduce their rates, in fact, they have all said that's not a possibility."

Critics also say the bill increases protections for pharmaceutical companies and makers of defective products.

Lawmakers approved an amendment increasing awards for Missourians who have lost a spouse or caretaker.

From the State Capitol, I'm Tim Carnahan.

Missouri lawmakers are talking about lowering liability awards to injured Missourians. Tim Carnahan has more from the Capitol.

The bill puts a 250-thousand dollar cap on punitive damage awards.

Cost-of-living increases would not change that figure.

Critics say the bill gives companies too much protection, and won't lower insurance costs for doctors.

Supporters like Jackson County Representative Bryan Pratt say taking money from businesses discourages innovation.

Actuality:PRATT1
RunTime: 9secs
OutCue: ...we stop all sorts of terrible afflictions.
Contents: "Here's what happens when businesses spend money on research and development of pharmaceuticals: we stop polio, we stop all sorts of terrible afflictions."

The bill also limits where trials are held and how long Missourians have to file suit.

House Republicans are strong supporters of the bill.

Reporting from the State Capitol, I'm Tim Carnahan.

Missouri lawmakers are talking about lowering liabilty awards to injured Missourians. Tim Carnahan has more from the Capitol.

The bill is under debate in the Missouri House.

It caps most punitive damage awards at 250-thousand dollars.

That amount would not be adjusted over time for cost-of-living increases.

The law would also protect companies making drugs or devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Columbia Representative Jeff Harris says capping punitive damages and protecting business doesn't address the issue.

Actuality:HARRIS1
RunTime: 7secs
OutCue: ...it's to punish the wrongdoer.


Contents: "The point is not to compensate the aggrieved victim, it's to punish the wrongdoer."

The bill also restricts where liability lawsuits can be heard, limiting plaintiff choice.

Cases against corporations could be heard in the county of the corporation.

Saint Louis County Representative Richard Byrd, the bill's sponsor, says plaintiffs now shop for friendly courts.

Actuality:BYRD1
RunTime: 12secs
OutCue: ...a plaintiff-friendly venue
Contents: "Plaintiffs will use any mechanism possible in order to get their cases to what they consider a plaintiff-friendly venue."

Lawmakers amended the bill to allow higher limits for Missourians who have lost a spouse.

House Republicans are strong supporters of the bill.

From the State Capitol, I'm Tim Carnahan.