Fine-Tuning the Judicial System

In 2005, the General Assembly passed a comprehensive tort reform bill. Missouri had been losing doctors and other businesses to other states due to increasing insurance costs fueled by bloated jury awards for punitive damages in lawsuits. Personal injury litigation against medical professionals and businesses had grown to become a very lucrative monetary source for many individuals.

Tuesday evening, the Senate worked through the night and into early Wednesday morning in order to clarify an interpretation of the law that still allowed overcompensation of litigious awards. The Senate debated more than 13 hours to perfect this bill, because of the importance of covering the details surrounding this issue.

Senate Bill 847 was passed by the Senate around 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, and now moves to the House for consideration and debate. The bill would allow clarification of the “actual cost” of medical expenses in a lawsuit, which juries rarely see, rather than an ambiguous amount based on the opinions of the “value” of a jury award.

The intent of SB847 is to restore fairness to personal injury cases, and help reduce the cost of insurance for doctors and businesses. With an alarming number of lawsuits clogging Missouri courts, I hope this is at least a small step towards updating our outdated judicial system.

As always, I encourage my constituents to contact me throughout the year with comments, questions or suggestions by calling my office at (573) 751-5713. To find more information about the bills I sponsor, visit Thank you for reading this and for your participation in state government.