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Missouri’s lawsuit climate fell to 49th out of 50 in a new national survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). The low ranking comes at the very time that Missouri’s governor and legislature have passed significant legal reforms designed to fix the problem that the survey highlights.
The 2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States surveyed senior business executives on their experiences with state lawsuit environments. The survey was in the field in the spring before the new reforms passed, and therefore reflect Missouri’s long-running problems with its lawsuit climate rather than the positive impact of its new laws.
The emphasis on tort reform by Governor Greitens and other political leaders comes at a critical time. An all-time high 85 percent of survey participants said that a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact their company’s decisions about where to locate or expand.
“Missouri’s lawsuit climate is in a state of transition, and Gov. Greitens and the state legislature deserve credit for rolling up their sleeves and working hard to turn things around,” said ILR President Lisa A. Rickard. “That’s a tall order given the poor legal environment that developed under past leaders, but the state is now showing a new determination to be known as the ‘Show-Me State’ rather than the ‘Sue-Me State.’”
Missouri’s reforms include keeping “junk science” out of state courts, reining in “gotcha” lawsuits against insurers who tried to pay a claim in good faith, and allowing juries to know whether a plaintiff already received compensation for the injury over which they’re suing.
More reforms are slated for next year’s legislative session, giving Missouri optimism that its ranking will improve in future surveys.