SB 65
Modifies provisions regarding punitive damages
LR Number:
Last Action:
5/17/2019 - Informal Calendar S Bills for Perfection--SB 65-White, with SS (pending)
Journal Page:
Calendar Position:
Effective Date:
August 28, 2019

Current Bill Summary

SS/SB 65 - This act modifies provisions relating to punitive damages.

PUNITIVE DAMAGES - GENERAL (SECTIONS 510.259, 510.263, AND 510.265)

The act provides that punitive damages shall only be awarded if the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally harmed the plaintiff without just cause or acted with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others, and the plaintiff is awarded more than nominal damages. Punitive damages may only be awarded against an employer due to an employee's conduct in certain situations, as provided in the act.

A claim for punitive damages shall not be contained in the initial pleading and may only be filed as a written motion with permission of the court no later than 120 days prior to the final pretrial conference or trial date. The written motion for punitive damages must be supported by evidence. A pleading seeking a punitive damages award may be filed only after the court determines that the trier of fact could reasonably conclude that the standards, as provided in the act, for punitive damages have been met.

Currently, in jury trials involving a claim for punitive damages there is a bifurcated trial. In the first stage, the jury determines liability, amount for compensatory damages, and the liability for punitive damages, and the jury determines the amount of punitive damages in the second stage. This act provides that after an award of compensatory damages has been made the court shall determine whether punitive damages may be considered by the jury. After the court's determination, the jury will determine whether to award punitive damages and the amount to award.

Currently, if a defendant has previously paid punitive damages in another state for the same conduct, following a hearing the court may credit the jury award of punitive damages by the amount previously paid. This act provides that the defendant may be credited for punitive damages also paid in federal court.

These provisions do not apply to claims for unlawful housing practices under the Missouri Human Rights Act.

These provisions are substantially similar to provisions in SCS/HB 186 (2019) and similar to provisions in HB 489 (2019) and in SCS/SB 1102 (2018).


The act modifies the definition of "punitive damages" as it is used in sections of law relating to actions for damages against a health care provider for personal injury or death caused by the rendering of health care services.

In order to be awarded punitive damages, the jury must find by clear and convincing evidence that the health care provider intentionally caused damage or demonstrated malicious misconduct. Evidence of negligence, including indifference or conscious disregard for the safety of others, does not constitute a basis for a punitive damage award.

These provisions are identical to provisions in SCS/HB 186 (2019) and similar to provisions in HB 489 (2019), SCS/SB 1102 (2018), HCS/HB 2434 (2018), HB 2273 (2018), and HCS/HB 2119 (2018).