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Missouri House passes civil liability reform

February 17, 2005
By: Tim Carnahan
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB393

A bill limiting malpractice and liability lawsuits has passed the Missouri House. Tim Carnahan has more from the State Capitol.

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House GOP leaders say bi-partisan spirit drove passage of the bill.

But opponents found much to criticize during floor debate.

They say the 250-thousand dollar cap on most punitive damage awards protects big business, not injured Missourians.

Bill sponsor and St. Louis County Representative Richard Byrd says the cap will protect Missouri jobs.

Actuality:BYRD2
RunTime: 17secs
OutCue: ...you are depriving Missourians of opportunities for jobs.
Contents: "When you start having a jury with the opportunity to get emotional in punitive damages, and they start issuing awards, like an Illinois jury did recently on thirteen billion dollars, then what you're doing is depriving Missourians of opportunities for jobs."

Critics say there is no evidence that caps prevent job loss.

The bill is now in the Senate for debate.

From the state Capitol, I'm Tim Carnahan.

###TDC###

Companies found guilty in liability lawsuits are one step closer to paying lower damages. Tim Carnahan has more from the Capitol.

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The bill altering liability lawsuits has passed the Missouri House.

Supporters say the bill will lower malpractice rates for health care providers and keep business in Missouri.

Critics disagree, saying it shields big business but does not lower costs for family doctors.

Critics also take issue with a provision forcing the losing party to pay the winner's travel, photocopying, and expert witness fees.

Jackson County Representative John Burnett says possiblity of paying those extra costs discourages lawsuits, hurting injured Missourians.

Actuality:BRNETT1
RunTime: 10secs
OutCue: "even if it's minimal risk, even if they have a legitimate claim.
Contents: "People that have injured normall have financial problems, and they may be reluctant to take that risk even if it's minimal risk, even if they hae a legitimate claim."

The bill also caps punitive damage awards at 250-thousand dollars and changes venue rules.

The bill is up for debate in the Senate, where House democrats anticipate it could radically change.

From the state Capitol, I'm Tim Carnahan.

###TDC###

The Missouri House has passed the bill limiting libility lawsuits. Tim Carnahan has more from the state Capitol.

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The bill caps punitive damage awards at 250-thousand dollars and changes venue rules.

It also re-classifies pharmaceutical companies as health-care providers.

Supporters say pharmaceuticals comprise a major part of health care, and should be regulated as such.

But Jackson County Democratic Representative John Burnett says exending those protections to pharmaceutical companies is a GOP thank you to a big-time campaign contributor.

Actuality:BRNETT2
RunTime: 8secs
OutCue: ...pay the piper
Contents: " They bought their access to justice and now it's come time to pay the piper."

There is also a provision forcing the losing party to pay the winner's travel, photocopying, and expert witness expenses.

Critics say that could discourage injured, and poor Missourians from filing suit.

The bill is now up for debate in the Senate.

From the state Capitol, I'm Tim Carnahan.