HB 1578, sponsored by Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer (R-53, Odessa), would bring about change in the laws regarding where a lawsuit may be filed and which parties may be joined as defendants or plaintiffs in a lawsuit.
Currently, Missouri’s liberal venue and joinder rules allow cases with little or no connection to Missouri to be filed in Missouri. That connection is maintained even if a plaintiff is later dismissed from the case and that plaintiff is the only connection with Missouri. This bill would change those rules, which have been cited as one major reason why Missouri is listed as the #3 Judicial Hellhole by the Americans for Tort Reform Association (ATRA).
The bill would address these problems through the following provisions:
- Out-of-state injury claims arising out of separate incidents or purchases of the same product or service will not justify joinder of two or more parties in one action;
- In any tort civil action, two or more plaintiffs may be joined in a single action only if each plaintiff is able independently establish venue, except that plaintiffs may be joined if (a) in adjoining counties with a population of less than 150,000; or (b) in counties with a population of 75,000 or less whether or not adjoining.
If a party is found to not meet the criteria for joinder, the misjoined parties must transfer their case to a county with proper venue and, if none exists in Missouri, the action must be dismissed. The bill does not apply to any civil actions pending on or before May 18, 2018.
The bill cleared the House on a vote of 104-47 and has moved to the Senate for further consideration.