On Tuesday, Feb. 19, I presented Senate Bill 62 to the Senate Government Reform Committee. This legislation modifies the process for participating in a class action lawsuit by requiring each plaintiff to submit a statement specifying a dollar amount to be awarded for damages and detailing the nature of the loss or damages suffered due to the defendant’s unlawful actions. Under this proposal, a judge shall not award damages unless objective proof is provided that the plaintiffs suffered damages by the defendant’s unlawful act.
The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) was passed in 1967 to protect consumers against fraudulent or unlawful businesses deals. I believe some attorneys have been increasingly abusing the MMPA by claiming that a violation occurred when the details of the case do not qualify it for a MMPA violation. This legislation has the potential to decrease the number of class action lawsuits incorrectly filed as MMPA violations by requiring plaintiffs to identify the ways in which they suffered damages from the defendant’s actions. Not every plaintiff suffers the same damages, so it is important that each plaintiff submit the damages they personally suffered so they receive their fair share of the awarded damages. All too often, these class action lawsuits needlessly monopolize judicial resources and slow down other cases on the docket, and I believe this bill could alleviate some of the congestion in our state’s judicial system.
In committee, we added an amendment to SB 62 which would allow builders involved in transactions of new home construction to offer an express warranty in place of the MMPA and give the consumer notice that the MMPA does not apply to the transaction. If the consumer believes the warranty is not sufficient or desires the protection of the MMPA, they may choose not to enter into this contract or negotiate different terms. This provides builders more options and ensures the consumers are aware of all details of the transactions.
On Feb. 26, the committee passed SB 62. I believe this legislation will provide a more balanced judicial system in Missouri, and I believe that it reflects the needs of Missouri’s consumers. I look forward to further debating SB 62 with my colleagues on the Senate floor, and I am hopeful that it will reach the governor’s desk before the end of the 2019 legislative session.
Please visit Sen. Burlison’s official Missouri Senate website at www.senate.mo.gov/burlison for more legislative and constituent resources.