Missouri Joinder/Venue Reform Bill Heading to Governor for His Signature

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On May 1, the Missouri House passed reform legislation that would impact venue and joinder rules in tort actions in the State of Missouri.  The legislation will be presented to Governor Parsons now for approval.  The bill provides that a rebuttable presumption exists that a plaintiff resides (and thus venue is proper) where the plaintiff is registered to vote at time of his or her injury.  If the plaintiff resides outside of Missouri, venue is proper where an individual defendant resides. 

For tort actions, the bill further provides that if the plaintiff is injured in Missouri, venue is proper in the county where the plaintiff was first injured.  If the plaintiff was injured outside of Missouri and the defendant is an individual, then venue is proper where defendant resides, or alternatively, where the defendant’s employer resides if there is a count in the action alleging conduct during the course of employment.  The bill also provides that, in tort claims where a count is alleged against an insurer, venue is proper either in a county where the insurer resides or where it resided when the insurance was issued.  An insurer’s residence is defined as either the county where it maintains its registered office or Cole County (Jefferson City) for foreign insurers with no registered office in Missouri.

With respect to joinder, the legislation provides that actions arising from separate purchases of the same product or separate incidents involving the same product cannot be joined even if they arise from the same transaction or occurrence. 

Once approved, the above provisions would apply to actions filed after February 13, 2019. 

Cameron Turner is a shareholder in the Chicago office of Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney. His practice focuses in products liability, toxic tort and commercial litigation matters. He is licensed to practice in Illinois, Missouri, Florida and Wisconsin. 

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