Providing Protections to Our State’s Child Advocacy Workers
On Wednesday, March 4, I was proud to present Senate Bill 924 to the Missouri Senate Seniors, Families and Children Committee. This legislation aims to provide legal protections to employees of child assessment centers.
Currently, Missouri law does not explicitly protect non-governmental employees, including Child Advocacy Center (CAC) employees acting in good faith, from legal liability during their investigation into cases of child abuse and neglect. Government employees receive protections afforded by the federal “qualified immunity” doctrine, which is designed to shield government workers from liability, as long as their actions are within the scope of their duties and do not violate state or federal laws or an individual’s constitutional rights. In child abuse and neglect investigations, this federal doctrine protects most, but not all, members of the multidisciplinary team involved with these investigations. CAC employees play an important role in working to provide justice and healing to victims of child abuse and neglect, and I firmly believe they should be covered by protections currently in law. In order to protect CAC employees, SB 924 adds protections to state law for these workers, who act in good faith, from legal liability during their involvement in child abuse and neglect investigations. Through this legislation, I believe we are providing vital protections to individuals that are working to provide justice to children who have suffered unspeakable harm.
I am proud to sponsor this legislation, and I believe it has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of children who have been abused or neglected. I am committed to working as hard as I can to get this important legislation across the finish line and to the governor’s desk before the end of the legislative session.
Tort Reform Proposal Receives Senate Approval
As a lawmaker, one of my main goals is to find ways to improve our state’s economy and promote economic development. In order to make Missouri a place where companies want to do business, we must find ways to improve our state’s business climate. I believe one way we can create a better business climate is by working to bring balance to our state’s civil justice system.
On Monday, March 2, my colleagues and I approved Senate Bill 591. This legislation addresses the issue of punitive damages in civil liability lawsuits. Currently, plaintiffs can be awarded compensatory damages and punitive damages in a liability lawsuit. Compensatory damages are designed to make the plaintiff whole, and these damages were unaffected by SB 591. Punitive damages go a step further and are designed to punish the defendant for their harmful behavior. Senate Bill 591 requires any plaintiff seeking punitive damages to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, the defendant intentionally harmed them without just cause or acted with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for their safety. Punitive damages are not covered by insurance, and I believe these types of damages represent a serious threat to a businesses’ ability to operate. In my opinion, the intent of this legislation is not to keep those wronged from seeking justice, but to reign in the unnecessary lawsuits that take a toll on our state’s business community.
I was proud to support this bill, and I am optimistic that it will successfully navigate the legislative process and make it to the governor’s desk before the end of the legislative session.
Visitors from the 10th Senatorial District
I was honored and humbled to present a Senate resolution to Woodrow Wilson Boulware. On March 21, Mr. Boulware will be celebrating his 102nd birthday. A proud World War II veteran, Mr. Boulware served in the 143rd Engineer Combat Battalion, Third Army, under Gen. George S. Patton in the European Theatre. Currently, Mr. Boulware resides at the VA Hospital in Mexico. It was an absolute pleasure to spend some time with this wonderful individual. If you see him out and about in our community, please be sure to wish him a happy birthday!
It is an honor to be your state senator, and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at www.senate.mo.gov/riddle.