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Judicial system ranking affirms Missouri Chamber’s focus on reforms

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(The Center Square) – As the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry prepares for the 2024 legislative session, judicial reform was affirmed as a priority with a national ranking criticizing the state’s judicial system for the 10th consecutive year.

During the 2023 legislative session, the chamber recommended changes to several legislative policies. The chamber also provided a search mechanism on its website to reveal how much money elected officials received in campaign donations from trial attorneys.

When the American Tort Reform Foundation’s Judicial Hellholes report ranked St. Louis at No. 8 for the second straight year last week, the chamber reiterated the need to change policy to prevent economic harm.

“The facts cited in the ATRF’s report are all too familiar to those of us who see the impact of Missouri’s unbalanced tort system on our state’s job creators,” Missouri Chamber President and CEO Dan Mehan said in a statement. “Trial attorneys have poured millions into Missouri’s media and politicians to maintain their grip on our state courts, and it is costing Missouri jobs. We know that Missouri’s unfair legal climate hurts our state’s economic competitiveness, so we’ll continue to fight for reforms in Jefferson City.”

During the 2023 legislative session, the organization recommended several legislative policies. Included was an effort to increase transparency in asbestos litigation by requiring the disclosure of asbestos bankruptcy before the trial.

“This would increase transparency and curtail fraudulent claims, allow businesses to fairly litigate all relevant exposures and ensure there will be compensation for future claimants by appropriately apportioning fault,” according to the chamber’s published legislative agenda.

The chamber also urged legislators to evaluate whether the statute of limitations in certain civil cases, including personal injury claims, best serves all parties in potential cases.

“Missouri’s lengthy statute of limitations increases uncertainty for all parties and a shorter time period would promote prompt resolution to potential disputes,” the chamber wrote in its legislative agenda.

A media release from the chamber highlighted two Republican senators who accepted campaign contributions from trial lawyers. The American Tort Reform Foundation’s information also noted the campaign contribution information.

“Notably, Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, is seeking re-election and has accepted nearly $25,000 in campaign contributions from the trial bar,” the chamber release stated. “Similarly, Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, is vying for the Republican gubernatorial nomination and has accepted nearly $33,000 in trial bar donations across his campaigns. The Believe in Life and Liberty PAC, a political action committee backing Eigel, has received over $300,000 in trial lawyer contributions.”

The foundation also reported 100 PAC, which supports Eigel, accepted $183,560 in donations from trial lawyers.

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