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Tort Reform 2015

This Session the Missouri General Assembly and the Missouri Senate passed Senate Bill 239, which re-institutes caps on non-economic damages in lawsuits against healthcare providers. Governor Nixon signed the legislation into law on May 7, 2015. The new law goes into effect on August 28, 2015.

This legislation was intended to effectively overrule the Missouri Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Watts v. Lester E Cox Medical Centers which held that there are no caps on awards of non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases not involving deaths. This legislation is thought to be a compromise between groups associated with healthcare providers and attorneys who represent Plaintiffs in medical negligence actions.

The Bill creates three different limitations on awards of non-economic damages. The limits are as follows:

  1. $400,000.00 for non-­catastrophic personal injuries;
  2. $700,000.00 for catastrophic injuries; and
  3. $700,000.00 in wrongful death cases.

These limits are scheduled to increase by 1.7% annually.

To deal with the argument that caps and medical negligence cases violate the right to jury trial provision in the Missouri Constitution, the Bill creates a new cause of action for damages against healthcare providers for personal injury or death.

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Firm News June 2015

The firm recently was named this Spring to the Missouri Defense Panel for TEAMHealth, which contracts to provide ER physicians to Missouri Hospitals.

Shaun Hanschen recently argued the case of Parr, et al. v. Breeden, et al. in the Missouri Supreme Court. The Court’s decision is expected to determine the fate of co-employee liability cases in Missouri. Attorneys in the firm recently represented some of the shareholders in the liquidation of an agri-business in the Missouri Bootheel. The firm supervised the sale of assets through a competitive bidding process. The assets sold included a cotton gin and approximately 1200 acres of farmland.

Attorney Patrick Douglas testified this Spring before the Missouri House Transportation Committee to advocate for improvements in state statutes governing levee districts.

Attorneys Joseph Blanton and John Cozean tried a 7 day medical malpractice case this January in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri and obtained a defense verdict for the firm’s client physician. The case involved a significant injury and was defended with expert testimony from a leading cancer physical medicine and rehabilitation expert from Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City.

Blanton, Rice, Nickell, Cozean and Collins attorneys have represented several shareholders in the division of a three office Southeast Missouri professional practice into three separate companies. The division of the company was accomplished through negotiation and without litigation.

Attorney Joseph Blanton has served as an arbitrator during 2014 and 2015 in the division of a large industrial construction contracting company into two new companies. The parties have presented numerous legal issues for resolution by the Arbitrator on an expedited and cost-effective basis when compared to litigation.

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