Missouri’s newly minted, reform-minded Governor Eric Greitens delivered his first State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature in Jefferson City yesterday, declaring his commitment to enacting critical tort reforms as a means to improving both the state’s civil justice system and its economic prospects.
Barely 10 minutes into his 40-minute speech, the governor noted the fact that the latest edition of ATRA’s annual Judicial Hellholes report named the City of St. Louis as the nation’s least fair civil court jurisdiction (go to the 10:05 mark in this youtube.com video). He then went on to speak for nearly three minutes about the urgent need to enact several important tort reforms, including adoption of the more exacting Daubert standard for expert evidence — the standard used by all federal courts and 40 state court systems — in order to end the “junk science” lawsuits that are scaring job-creating businesses away from the Show Me Your Lawsuits State.
And as reported by KMOV-TV, the new Speaker of the Missouri House, Todd Richardson has also “listed tort reform as one of his top legislative agenda items for this session.” At least four tort reform bills have already been filed in the state House and Senate. The bills would: (1) adopt the Daubert standard for expert evidence, (2) make it harder for plaintiffs lawyers — especially those from out of state — to “venue shop” for friendly judges, (3) change the so-called “collateral source rule” in order to keep those same plaintiffs’ lawyers from brazenly misleading jurors about damages incurred by their clients, and (4) amend the state’s well-intentioned but too easily exploited consumer protection law known as the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.
Another bill aimed at fighting rampant fraud in asbestos litigation with transparency requirements for claims made against bankruptcy trusts may also reach the governor’s desk before Missouri’s legislative session ends later this year.
So the next time a multimillionaire plaintiffs’ lawyer, such as American Association for Justice CEO Linda Lipsen, enviously badmouths ATRA’s Judicial Hellholes report as nothing more than a meaningless “publicity stunt,” you’ll know she really means that it’s a very well documented accounting of her profession’s parasitic element and thus an incredibly effective driver of meaningful civil justice reforms.