HB393I-TORT REFORM
Summary of the Introduced Bill

HB 393 -- Tort Reform

Sponsor:  Byrd

This bill changes the laws regarding claims for damages and the
payment thereof.  In its main provisions, the bill:

(1)  Establishes venue in all tort actions in which the cause of
action occurred in a Missouri venue that is in any county within
the judicial circuit where the plaintiff was first injured by the
wrongful acts or negligent conduct alleged in the action;

(2)  Establishes venue in all tort actions in which the cause of
action occurred outside Missouri:

(a)  For corporate defendants, in any county within the judicial
circuit where the registered agent is located or, if the
plaintiff's principal place of residence was in the state of
Missouri when the plaintiff was first injured, in any county
within the judicial circuit containing the plaintiff's principal
place of residence on the date the plaintiff was first injured;
and

(b)  For individual defendants, in any county within the judicial
circuit of the defendant's principal place of residence in
Missouri or, if the plaintiff's principal place of residence was
in Missouri when the plaintiff was first injured, in any county
within the judicial circuit containing the plaintiff's principal
place of residence on the date the plaintiff was first injured;

(3)  Specifies that in wrongful death actions the plaintiff is
considered first injured where the decedent was first injured by
the wrongful acts or negligent conduct alleged in the action;

(4)  Specifies that in a spouse's claim for loss of consortium
the plaintiff claiming consortium is considered first injured
where the other spouse was first injured by the wrongful acts or
negligent conduct alleged in the action;

(5)  Specifies that the court must transfer venue to the county
unanimously chosen by the parties if all parties agree in writing
to a change of venue.  If parties are added after the date of
transfer and they do not consent to the transfer, the cause of
action will be transferred to a county in which venue is
otherwise appropriate;

(6)  Requires prejudgment interest to be calculated 90 days after
the demand or offer is received by certified mail, return receipt
requested.  The demand or offer must be in writing, be
accompanied by an affidavit from the claimant describing the
legal theory and damages claimed, list the medical providers of
the claimant, include other medical information and contain
authorization to allow the other party to obtain employment and
medical records, and be left open for 90 days;

(7)  Specifies that claims for prejudgment and post-judgment
interest in tort actions are calculated at an interest rate that
is equal to the Federal Funds Rate plus 3% for prejudgment
interest and 5% for post-judgment interest;

(8)  Allows parties to introduce amounts actually paid for
medical treatment rendered to a party that was reasonable,
necessary, and the proximate result of the negligence of any
party;

(9)  Defines "punitive damage award" to include an award for
punitive or exemplary damages as well as an award for aggravating
circumstances;

(10)  Allows discovery of a defendant's assets only after the
trial court finds that the plaintiff will have a submissible case
for punitive damages;

(11)  Limits an award for punitive damages to the greater of
$250,000 or three times the net amount of the judgment awarded to
the plaintiff against the defendant;

(12)  Eliminates joint and several liability and specifies that
in tort actions for damages, a defendant is responsible for the
percentage of the judgment for which the defendant is determined
to be responsible by the trier of fact;

(13)  Includes long-term care facilities licensed under Chapter
198, RSMo, and manufacturers, wholesalers, or licensed
distributors of drugs or devices approved by the federal Food and
Drug Administration in the definition of "health care provider."
Exemplary damages and damages for aggravating circumstances are
included in the definition of "punitive damages";

(14)  Lowers the cap on non-economic damages for all plaintiffs
to $250,000, irrespective of the number of defendants;

(15)  Requires future medical payments to be made in an amount
according to a schedule determined by the payee's life
expectancy.  The court must apply interest on future payments at
an interest rate equal to the average auction price of a 52-week
United States Treasury bill;

(16)  Requires a court to dismiss any medical malpractice claim
where the plaintiff fails to file an affidavit stating that he or
she has obtained the written opinion of a legally qualified
health care provider which states that the defendant failed to
use reasonable care that caused the plaintiff's damages.
Currently, the court gives discretion as to whether or not to
dismiss a claim under these circumstances;

(17)  Prohibits statements, writings, or benevolent gestures
expressing sympathy made to the person or the family from being
admitted into evidence;

(18)  Specifies, for purposes of determining venue, that in any
action against a health care provider for damages for personal
injury or death arising out of the rendering of or failure to
render health care services, the plaintiff will be considered
injured by the health care provider in the county where the
plaintiff was first examined for the medical condition at issue
in the case;

(19)  Limits the amount of a supersedeas bond to $25 million in
all cases in which there is a count alleging a tort;

(20)  Specifies that costs that may be assessed in civil actions
include reasonable fees for travel, expert witnesses,
videotaping, and photocopying.  Parties are allowed to make a
post-trial challenge as to the reasonableness and necessity of
the fees;

(21)  Authorizes the appointment of a peer review committee by
the board of trustees or chief executive officer of a long-term
care facility licensed under Chapter 198;

(22)  Specifies that the judge will transfer the case to a proper
forum if a plaintiff or defendant is added or removed prior to
trial which would alter the determination of venue if originally
added or removed; and

(23)  Specifies that the provisions of the bill, except for
Section 512.099, apply to all causes of action filed after August
28, 2005.

Copyright (c) Missouri House of Representatives

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Missouri House of Representatives
93rd General Assembly, 1st Regular Session
Last Updated August 25, 2005 at 1:19 pm