House Bill 461 seeks to change the joinder rules found in Supreme Court Rule 52.05 and 52.06. This legislation proposed by Majority Caucus Chair Glen Kolkmeyer (R – Jackson/Johnson/Lafayette) appears to be in response to Governor Greitens call for tort reform from his State of the State address in which he claimed there was a massive amount of lawsuits being filed in Missouri by non-Missourians because Missouri is a “judicial hell hole.”
The bill would add this subjection to Rule 52.05:
(c) Independent Establishment of Venue. In addition to the requirements of subdivision (a), in any civil action in which there is a count alleging a tort, two or more plaintiffs may be joined in a single action only if each plaintiff could have separately filed an action in that venue, independent of the claims of any other plaintiff. Any plaintiff that cannot establish proper venue independent of the claims of any other plaintiff shall be deemed misjoined. If the plaintiff was first injured outside of the state of Missouri, two or more defendants may be joined in a single action if the plaintiff can establish proper venue against each defendant individually. If proper venue cannot be established against a defendant individually, that defendant shall be deemed misjoined.
The bill would also add this language to the end of Rule 52.06:
If a plaintiff or defendant is deemed misjoined under supreme court rule 52.05(c), such plaintiff or defendant shall be severed from the action, and the claims shall be transferred to a county in which venue exists. If there is no county in Missouri in which venue exists, the claims shall be dismissed.
Senate Bills 261 and 262, sponsored by Majority Caucus Whip Brian Munzlinger (R – District 18, which is generally northcentral and northeastern Missouri) are identical and have been passed by the Government Reform Committee
HB 461 is set for hearing on Monday, Feb. 13 at 1pm in front of the Special Committee on Litigation Reform so don’t delay in reaching out to your representative if you have a position on this proposed legislation.
Tim West, MO Legislative Monitor
LAKC Board of Directors