Unless its vetoed, Senate Bill 591 repeals Missouri's prior punitive damages law and replaces it with RSMo 510.261 making it more difficult to punish wrongdoers in a civil law suit. S.B. 591
Previously, punitive damages were awarded to deter “willful, wanton or malicious misconduct.” The new law changes the standard to “malicious misconduct or conduct that intentionally caused damage to the plaintiff.”
Also, with the new law, Plaintiffs are unable to plead punitive damages in their initial petition. Instead, they have to conduct discovery to demonstrate a basis for such an award and can only add them to the suit later with the court's permission. At trial, a jury would have to find the damages were warranted by clear and convincing evidence.
The insurance industry says the change in the law was proposed to “stop abuse” by preventing punitive damages from being used against businesses to pressure larger settlements and to make Missouri more “business friendly” and “welcoming” for job growth opportunities.
This argument is baseless and made with no supporting data that businesses were leaving Missouri or staying away from Missouri because of it's punitive damages law. More importantly, this new law will make it more difficult to hold defendants accountable for bad behavior. Why would the Missouri legislature protect wrong doers that engage in unreasonably dangerous conduct with willful wanton or a malicious mental state?
Again, the multi-billion insurance industry…this time using the pretext of “protecting businesses” in Missouri…found another way to limit their payouts on lawsuits despite willful and wanton wrongdoing at the price of injury victims.
If you were injured due to the misconduct of another, call Allen Injury Law, LLC for a free consultation. Don't try to fight the insurance companies alone. 314-300-8380