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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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