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Gary Snodgrass named one of AMERICA’S TOP 100 HIGH STAKES LITIGATORS®

Gary Snodgrass has been selected as one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® for 2020. Selection to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® is by invitation only and is reserved to identify the most exceptional trial attorneys in high value, high stakes legal matters.

To be considered for selection, an attorney must have litigated (for either plaintiff or defendant) a matter (1) with at least $2,000,000 in alleged damages at stake or (2) with the fate of a business worth at least $2,000,000 at stake. These minimum qualifications are required for initial consideration. Thereafter, candidates are carefully screened through comprehensive Qualitative Comparative Analysis based on a broad array of criteria, including the candidate’s professional experience, litigation experience, significant case results, representative high stakes matters, peer reputation, and community impact in order to rank the candidates throughout the state.

Only the top 100 qualifying attorneys in each state will receive this honor and be selected for membership among America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®. With these extremely high standards for selection to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®, less than one-half percent (0.5%) of active attorneys in the United States will receive this honor — truly the most exclusive and elite level of attorneys in the community.

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If you would like more information about America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® or the selection process, please visit our website at www.Top100HighStakesLitigators.com or contact Kevin Wieser – Membership Director at [email protected]

Gary Snodgrass Named One of America's Top 100 High Stakes Litigators

COVID-19 Update

At Pitzer Snodgrass, P.C., the health, welfare and safety of our employees and our clients is in the forefront of our minds. In this fast changing environment with information being updated daily and, in some cases, hourly, we wanted to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to serve our clients in as safe and complete a manner as possible.

 

Pitzer Snodgrass, P.C. will be operating for the immediate future following “Stay at Home” Orders issued by various governmental authorities. Our office remains open, and, as many of our lawyers and staff are working remotely, our virtual offices are open. We will continue to have staff on-site, but most of our services will now be provided through electronic means.

 

This means our clients can continue to reach our lawyers, staff, and administrators via email, telephone, and interview sessions conducted through video-conferencing applications. Our attorneys continue to work on your cases and are available for the assignment of new matters in this virtual environment. We will respond to all inquiries from clients, the courts and opposing counsel promptly and arrange to deal with your issues in the most efficient and effective manner available, including by means of virtual meetings.

 

In this extremely fluid personal and business environment, we will take all reasonable steps necessary to protect our clients and our employees while continuing to provide you with the legal services you need and have grown accustomed to receiving.

 

We are monitoring court orders concerning court operations, including those in the area federal and state courts in Missouri and Illinois. We are making telephonic and virtual court appearances as ordered by the judges of these courts.

 

We are advising our clients of court cancellations as we become aware of them, but if you have any questions about your court proceeding or case, please call or email us. If you have questions about your business operating under Stay at Home Orders, please call or email us.

 

Our lawyers and staff are continuously monitoring information to do our part to keep ourselves, our clients, and our community as safe and secure as possible in these difficult times. Please reach out to us with questions or concerns, and stay safe.

 

Gary Snodgrass named one of AMERICA’S TOP 100 CIVIL DEFENSE LITIGATORS®

Gary Snodgrass has been selected as one of America’s Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators® for 2019. Selection to America’s Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators® is by invitation only and is reserved to identify most exceptional Civil Defense Litigators in throughout the nation.

Candidates are carefully screened through comprehensive Qualitative Comparative Analysis based on a broad array of criteria, including the candidate’s professional experience, litigation experience, significant case results, representative high stakes matters, peer reputation, and community impact in order to rank the candidates throughout the state.

Only the top 100 qualifying defense litigators in each state will receive this honor and be selected for membership among America’s Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators®. With these extremely high standards for selection to America’s Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators®, less than one-half percent (0.5%) of active attorneys in the United States will receive this honor — truly the most exclusive and elite level of litigators in the community.

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If you would like more information about America’s Top 100 Civil Defense Litigators® or the selection process, please visit our website at www.Top100CivilDefenseLitigators.com or contact Kevin Wieser – Membership Director at [email protected]

Civil-Defense-2019

Legal Ethics of Email Half Day Seminar – June 19th, 2019

NBI (National Business Institute) will hold a half day seminar on the topic of Legal Ethics of Email on June 19th in St. Louis, Missouri.  Continuing Education Credits are available.

This seminar will cover:

  • Attorney Duties, Statutes and Case Law Regarding Email
  • Sending Emails to Clients, Opposing Counsel, the Court, and Third Parties
  • Inadvertent Disclosure
  • Data Security and Cloud Storage – Does the Email You Delete Really Disappear?
  • Creation and Termination of Attorney-Client Relationship

Pitzer Snodgrass, P.C. Attorneys Robert Plunkert (Principal), and Nicholas Meriage (Attorney) will be co-presenters of the seminar.

Additional information is available in the brochure.

AIA Contract Document Workshop – April 23rd St. Louis, MO

Half Moon Education will hold an AIA Contract Document Workshop on April 23rd in St. Louis, Missouri.  Continuing Education Credits are available.

This workshop will include:

  • Identifying construction contract fundamentals
  • Understanding the primary AIA documents
  • Examining supplemental and alternative AIA contract documents
  • Learning contract terminology
  • Exploring AIA A201: General Conditions
  • Reviewing completed contract documents for a sample project

Pitzer Snodgrass, P.C. Attorneys Gary Snodgrass (Principal), and Nicholas Meriage (Attorney) will present the section on AIA A201: General Conditions.

Additional information is available in the brochure.

 

Three Attorneys Included in the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America

Pitzer Snodgrass, P.C. is proud to announce that three of our attorneys were included in the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Peter J. Dunne was included for Employment Law, Gary E. Snodgrass was included for Personal Injury Litigation, and Robyn Greifzu Fox was included for Appellate Practice.

Robert Plunkert Recieves David J. Dixon Appellate Advocacy Award

Robert Plunkert was awarded the David J. Dixon Appellate Advocacy Award by the Missouri Bar / Missouri Bar Foundation.

The award acknowledges outstanding appellate advocacy work performed by young lawyers who are members of the Missouri Bar.

Three Pitzer Snodgrass P.C. Attorneys Recognized as 2016 Missouri Super Lawyers

Each year, Super Lawyers rate outstanding lawyers from over 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.  The selection process starts with peer nominations which are then validated by 3rd party research which looks at 12 different evaluation categories.  The evaluations are then reviewed by a highly credentialed panel of attorneys who choose the top 5% Super Lawyers and the top 2.5% of Rising Stars.

Pitzer Snodgrass, P.C.  is proud to recognize 3 of our attorneys who were added to the 2016 list of Missouri Super Lawyers:

Gary Snodgrass, Principal at Pitzer Snodgrass, P.C.   Gary Snodgrass – Top Rated Professional Liability Attorney

Jerry Simon, Principal at Pitzer Snodgrass, P.C.   Jerry Simon – Top Civil Litigation Attorney

Robyn Fox, Principal at Pitzer Snodgrass, P.C.   Robyn Greifzu Fox – Top Insurance Coverage Attorney

Additional information about Super Lawyers and their evaluation process can be found on superlawyers.com.

Winter is Coming! It’s Time to Dig out the Immunity Under The Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act

With the coming of winter Illinoisans are once again getting their snow shovels and ice melt ready to remove the white stuff from their residential driveways and sidewalks.  The question is, what is a residential property owners’ duty to remove snow?

In Illinois, a property owner has no duty to remove naturally occurring snow and ice from a property.  Krywin v Chicago Transit Authority, 238 Ill.2d 215, 227(2010).  However, the common law of Illinois was that if a residential property owner did undertake snow removal around a residential property there could be liability for negligently undertaking the snow removal.  Up until 1979, owners risked liability for their voluntary clearing of snow and ice from their residential property if the clearing negligently created an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice.  If the owner did not undertake to clear the snow or ice, they faced no liability.

In an effort to encourage residential owners to clear snow and ice from residential properties, the General Assembly, in 1979, passed the Snow and Ice Removal Act.  The Act provides immunity to residential property owners from liability in connection with their snow or ice removal efforts.  745 ILCS 75/1, 2.   The owners still owe a duty of reasonable care to prevent unnatural accumulation of ice and snow on their property where the owner has actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition.  Graham v City of Chicago, 346 Ill. 638 (1931).

There have been many different theories for liability resulting from the accumulation of ice and snow.  But the two main theories are: 1) defective conditions or negligent maintenance of the property, and 2) a voluntary undertaking theory.  Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court provided some clarification on how the immunity provided by the Snow and Ice Removal Act applies to these two theories of liability.

In Murphy-Hylton v. Lieberman Management Services, Inc., the Illinois Supreme Court clarified that a residential property owner has immunity for undertaking the removal of naturally accumulated snow or ice even if the removal causes an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice that ultimately leads to injury.  2016 IL 120394 (December 1, 2016).  An example would be if an owner piled up snow which in turn created an ice ridge upon which a person slipped.  The unnatural ice ridge was created because of negligent snow or ice removal.  The property owner would have immunity from this claim.

However, in Murphy-Hylton, the Court found there is no immunity under the Snow and Ice Removal Act for defective conditions or negligent maintenance of a property.  Id.  In Murhpy-Hylton, the plaintiff left her condominium and slipped on an icy sidewalk.  She brought suit against the condominium owner and the property management company.  The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants based on the Snow and Ice Removal Act.  The appellate court reversed and remanded finding the immunity did not apply.  Defendants argued they removed the snow on the sidewalk, which subsequently melted and ran back onto the sidewalk to refreeze.  Because the defendants undertook snow removal they argued the immunity applied.  Plaintiff argued the sidewalk, grading, and drainage of the property were not properly maintained, and it was this failure to maintain the property that caused the injury, not the snow removal.  The Court affirmed the appellate court’s ruling stating that the “Snow and Ice Removal Act provides immunity to residential property owners from claims of liability for injuries allegedly caused by icy sidewalks that result from negligent snow and ice removal efforts, but it does not extend to immunize them from claims of liability for injuries allegedly caused by icy sidewalks that result from an otherwise negligent failure to maintain the premises.”

Winter is coming, so make sure to remember to dig out the Snow and Ice Removal Act on your next slip and fall case.

The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only, and is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Since the laws of different states vary, the information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not make, or refrain from making, any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Pitzer Snodgrass, PC, or the authors. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Two Attorneys Included in the 2017 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America

Pitzer Snodgrass, P.C. is proud to announce that two of our attorneys were  included in the 2017 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Gary Snodgrass was included for Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants and Robyn Fox was included for Appellate Practice.

Lawyer Recognized By Defense Research Institute (DRI) for Trial Win

DRI member Gary Snodgrass recently won a case filed by a power industry developer against their client, a geotechnical engineer, in St. Louis County, Missouri. Although they asked the jury for over $1.2 million, the jury returned a verdict assessing 100 percent of the fault to the plaintiff.

Read the entire DRI article.

The Looming Attack on Damage Caps in Missouri Medical Malpractice Cases

The issue of damage caps is an area of ongoing litigation in Missouri.  A new case has just been handed down by the Missouri Supreme Court which provides some clarity on the issue of statutory damage caps on non-economic damages but fails to fully resolve the issue. Currently, Missouri has a $406,800.00 cap on non-economic damages in medical negligence cases not resulting in death and a $711,900.00 cap non-economic damages in medical negligence cases resulting in death.  Mo. Rev. Stat. §538.210 (2015).  The cap increases annually at a constant rate of 1.7%.  The above numbers are current as of January 1, 2016 but will increase again on January 1, 2017. 

In April of 2016, the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the statutory cap on wrongful death causes of action arising out of medical negligence.   Dodson v. Ferrara, — S.W.3d —-, 2016 WL 1620102 (Mo. banc 2016) affirming Sanders v. Ahmed, 364 S.W.3d 195 (Mo. banc 2012) (a copy is attached).  However, the Missouri Supreme Court did not address the constitutionality of the statutory cap on medical negligence causes of action not resulting in death.  Id.  The question of the constitutionality of the statutory cap on medical negligence not resulting in death, set forth in Mo. Rev. Stat. §538.210 (2015), is still undecided and Dodson leaves open a fairly strong argument the non-economic damage cap on medical negligence cases not resulting in death is unconstitutional.  See Dodson, 2016 WL 1620102 at 6.

To understand the Court’s ruling in Dodson and how it leaves open an attack on the constitutionality of damages caps on medical negligence not resulting in death, it is necessary to have some background on the history of personal injury claims and wrongful death claims in Missouri.  Dating back to before 1820, Missouri courts recognized a common law cause of action for medical negligence.  Id.  However, prior to 1855, there was no cause of action for wrongful death in Missouri.  Id.  

The arguments about the constitutionality of statutory damage caps hinges on an 1820 amendment to the Missouri Constitution.  In 1820, the Missouri Constitution was amended to provide a constitutional right to a jury trial.  Id.  The amendment states the right to a jury trial should remain inviolate.  Id. citing Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Centers, 376 S.W.3d 633 (Mo. banc 2012); and Lewellen v. Franklin, 441 S.W.3d 136 (Mo. banc 2014).  Because the right to a jury is to remain inviolate, if there was a common law cause of action available in 1820 which provided a right to a trial by jury, the right shall not be violated by modifying the jury’s right to award damages.  Id.  Because capping of damages in common law causes of action available in 1820 modifies the jury’s ability to award damages, the caps, as applied to those causes of action, have been found to be unconstitutional under the Missouri Constitution.  Id.  As a result of Watts, for a time, Missouri was without a cap on non-economic damages in common law medical negligence cases, as the cap set out in Mo. Rev. Stat. §538.210 (2005) was held unconstitutional.

However, the Missouri Supreme Court has continuously held the statutory caps on wrongful death causes of action arising out of medical negligence are constitutional.  Dodson, 2016 WL 1620102 and Sanders v. Ahmed, 364 S.W.3d 195.  The Court in Dodson and Sanders held the caps on non-economic damages in a wrongful death claim are not unconstitutional because Missouri has never recognized a common law cause of action for wrongful death.  Id.  In 1820, there was no cause of action for wrongful death; therefore, there was no right to a jury trial.  Id.  Because there was no right to a trial by jury, there could be no violation of the right by capping the amount a jury can award for non-economic damages.  See Id.  As such, the caps on non-economic damages in cases involving statutory causes of action continue to be enforced by the courts. Id.

In 2015, the legislature revised Mo. Rev. Stat. §538.210 to reinstate caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims.  To address the issues raised in Watts, the legislature repealed the common law cause of action for medical malpractice and replaced it with a statutory cause of action.  The statute defines the elements of the cause of action as: 1) the health care provider failed to use that degree of skill and learning ordinarily used under the same or similar circumstances by members of the defendant’s profession; and 2) that such failure directly caused or contributed to cause the plaintiff’s injury or death.  Mo. Rev. Stat. §538.210.1 (2015).  These are the same elements of the common law cause of action.

The question remains to be determined if the relabeling of a common law cause of action as a statutory cause of action will be successful in maintaining damage caps in medical negligence cases not resulting in death. Dodson seems to be hinting the Missouri Supreme Court believes the revision to Mo. Rev. Stat. §538.210 does successfully address the constitutional issues raised previously in Watts.  The court in Dodson states, “[t]he General Assembly has the right to create causes of action and to prescribe their remedies. The General Assembly may negate causes of action or their remedies that did not exist prior to 1820.” Dodson, 2016 WL 1620102 at 6 (emphasis added).  This suggests the General Assembly does not have the right to negate causes of action that existed prior to 1820.  Because the medical negligence claim existed prior to 1820, it will likely be argued that the renaming of the cause of action as a statutory cause of action does not mean Missourian’s constitutional right to a trial by jury is abrogated.

The argument against damage caps applied to the statutorily created cause of action for medical negligence not resulting in death is further developed in the dissent by Judge Teitelman to Dodson.  Judge Teitelman argues the right to a jury trial attaches to “a modem statutory cause of action when the statutory cause of action is a civil action for damages that is ‘analogous to’ or a ‘modem variant of’ the kinds of cases triable by juries when the Missouri Constitution was originally adopted.”  State ex rel. Diehl v. O’Malley, 95 S.W.3d 82, 87 & 92 (Mo. banc 2003); see also Briggs v. St. Louis & S.F. Ry. Co., 20 S.W. 32, 33 (Mo. 1892).   The argument in Dodson is defeated as applied to medical negligence resulting in death because the majority found the wrongful death cause of action was not analogous or a modern variant of a cause of action available in 1820.  Dodson, 2016 WL 1620102 at 6.   Therefore, the right to a trial by jury did not attach and the Missouri Constitution was not violated.  Id.

However, Judge Teitelman’s argument against damage caps, as applied to the damage cap on the statutorily created cause of action for medical negligence not resulting in death in Mo. Rev. Stat. §538.210, seems to have more traction.  When the legislature created the statutory cause of action for medical negligence, the elements of the cause of action stayed the same as the common law cause of action recognized prior to 1820.  The statutorily created cause of action is likely “analogous to” or a “modern variant of” the common law cause of action and applying the damage cap would likely be found unconstitutional because it violates the jury’s right to assess damages.

The Court in Dodson, while upholding the statutory cap on damages applied to non-economic damages in a medical negligence case resulting in death, was very hostile to the damage cap in general stating, “[t]his Court recognizes the inadequacy of $350,000 to compensate the Dodson family for the tragic death of their loved one, particularly in light of the amount awarded by the jury.” Id.

While Dodson affirms the statutory damage caps on wrongful death causes of action, it leaves uncertain the application of statutory damage caps to the statutory cause of action created in Mo. Rev. Stat. §538.210 for medical negligence not resulting in death.  In this case, the damage cap on non-economic damages applies to the wrongful death claim plaintiff has made and at this time the cap still applies to the survivor action.  However, the latter is subject to attack on constitutional grounds.

The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only, and is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Since the laws of different states vary, the information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not make, or refrain from making, any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Pitzer Snodgrass, PC, or the authors. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phillip Bryant and Nicholas Meriage Granted Motion to Dismiss on a Repossession Injury Claim

PS Partner: J. Phillip Bryant

PS Associate: Nicholas P. Meriage

We represented: Phillip Christophel, and Stealth Recovery, LLC

 Venue: Circuit Court of County of St. Louis

Facts:

Plaintiff sued for alleged injuries arising out of the repossession of her 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe. She alleged Stealth Recovery, LLC was an agent of Boulevard Bank, the secured creditor on the loan for Ms. Dodson’s 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe. Ms. Dodson dismissed her claims against Boulevard Bank and attempted to recover from Stealth Recovery, LLC and its employee Phillip Christophel for alleged injuries occurring during and as a result of the repossession.

Ms. Dodson alleged Boulevard Bank hired Stealth Recovery, LLC to repossess Ms. Dodson’s vehicle. Ms. Dodson alleged that during the repossession she confronted Mr. Christophel and ordered he stop the repossession. She alleges he refused and Ms. Dodson got into the drivers seat of the car. Ms. Dodson alleges Mr. Christophel then lifted the car into the air and called the police. The police arrived and Ms. Dodson was ordered from the car. She refused to comply with the police order and ultimately, upon exiting the vehicle, she was arrested. Mr. Christophel repossessed the vehicle.

Suit was filed alleging personal injury, emotional injuries, loss of use and enjoyment of the vehicle, and punitive damages seeking over $500,000.00 from Stealth Recovery, LLC and Phillip Christophel. Pitzer Snodgrass, P.C. filed a motion to dismiss arguing all of the alleged wrongful acts arose out of the repossession and alleged breach of peace occurring during the repossession. Pitzer Snodgrass P.C. argued the secured creditor owes the non-delegable duty to repossess peaceably and the duty cannot be delegated to Stealth Recovery, LLC or Phillip Christophel. The court agreed and granted the Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

Verdict:  Motion to Dismiss Granted On All Counts

Pitzer Snodgrass Attorneys Receive Super Lawyers Recognition

We are pleased to announce that the following attorneys have been recognized by Missouri and Kansas Super Lawyers for 2015.

Robyn Fox – Insurance Coverage

Jerry Simon – Civil Litigation

Gary Snodgrass – Professional Liability Defense

More information about the Missouri and Kansas Super Lawyers can be found here.

Jerry Simon Selected As A 2015 Top Rated Lawyer in Mass Torts

American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell™ have selected Jerry Simon as a 2015 Top Rated Lawyer in Mass Torts.  Jerry has extensive experience defending against mass tort claims and has spoken several times on various mass tort and toxic tort related topics.

Missouri Law Quick FAQ – A Few Handy Reminders and References for Missouri Law Questions

Some issues frequently arise in most any matter.  It is helpful to have a quick primer or FAQ (frequently asked questions) with answers to these persistent legal questions. For claims adjusters, lawyers or litigants with cases pending in Missouri, there may well be questions about legal issues that will inevitably arise in your case. The following provides a quick reference guide to several of those issues.  Do not hesitate to contact us with questions as to how these, or other issues, impact a particular situation. Of course, these factors will not always apply to every case, as, there are inevitably peculiar facts in each situation which may well alter the outcome, so these are just general principles which you can use as a reference guide.

Required Motor Vehicle Coverage:  

Bodily Injury: The minimum required limit is $25,000 for bodily injury to any one person and $50,000 for bodily injury to two or more persons.  §303.020(10) RSMo.

Property Damage: The minimum limit is $10,000.  §303.020(10) RSMo.

Uninsured / Underinsured:

Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage is required with limits of at least $25,000/$50,000.  §379.203 RSMo.  Underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage is not required.

• Anti-stacking provisions in policy concerning uninsured coverage have been invalidated as against public policy. Shepherd v. American States Insurance Co., 671 S.W.2d 777 (Mo. banc 1984).

• Stacking of underinsured motorist coverage depends upon the policy language.

Medical Payments:  Coverage is not mandatory. Cameron Mutual Insurance Co. v. Madden, 533 S.W.2d 538 (Mo. 1976). Med Pay is excess over health insurance except Medicare if the contract provides. Med Pay is stackable if contract permits. An insurance carrier cannot subrogate for Med Pay.

Prejudgment Interest:  If a claimant has made a demand and the judgment exceeds the demand, prejudgment interest shall be awarded, calculated from a date ninety days after the demand was received or from the date the demand was rejected without counter offer, whichever is earlier.  The demand must (1) be sent by certified mail; (2) provide an affidavit of the claimant describing the claim with supporting documents; (3) for wrongful death, must list medical providers and employers, provide medical bills and submit authorizations, and (4) be left open for ninety days..  § 408.040.2 RSMo.

Missouri is a Pure Comparative Negligence Jurisdiction:

  • A plaintiff can collect as long as his own negligence is less than 100%. Gustafson v. Benda, 661 S.W.2d 11, 15-16 (Mo. 1983).
  • The age at which a child can be guilty of comparative fault is a jury question. Lester v. Sayles, 850 S.W.2d 858, 865-867 (Mo. 1993). Comparative fault for minors is based on the “reasonable child of same age” standard. Root By and Through Root v. Mudd, 981 S.W.2d 651 (Mo. W.D. 1998).
  • Negligence may be imputed to a passenger when the passenger knowingly gets into the vehicle of a drunk driver.
  • Punitive damages are not reduced by plaintiff’s comparative fault.

Statute of Limitations:  Bodily injury or property damage claims involving adults age eighteen and older must be commenced within five (5) years.  §516.120 RSMo.  If a defendant is out of the state after a cause of action accrues, the limitation period begins upon the return of the defendant to the state.  §516.200 RSMo.  The limitation period by minors under the age of 18 when the cause of action accrues is extended to three years from the minor’s 18th birthday.  §516.030 RSMo.  The wrongful death statute of limitations is three years.  §537.100 RSMo.

Collateral Sources:  Missouri follows the general rule that evidence of a collateral source is inadmissible. Taylor v. Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc., 818 S.W.2d 669, 672 (Mo W.D. 1991).

Tort Threshold:  No minimum tort threshold is necessary for a bodily injury claim to be made.

Joint and Several Liability:  Joint and several liability applies to all defendants who are found at least 51% at fault.  If a defendant is found less than 51% at fault, that defendant shall only be responsible for the percentage of the judgment for which that defendant is held liable.  Mo. Rev. Stat. §537.067.

Minor’s Settlement:  Minor settlements and are not valid unless approved by the court.  §507.184 RSMo.  If the settlement exceeds $10,000, additional safeguards require the guardian to post a bond or open a conservatorship for the minor.  If the claim is a fairly minor injury, consider foregoing court approval.  Such a settlement is not enforceable and there is nothing to preclude the minor from later bringing a cause of action.  The defendant will be entitled to a setoff for any amount previously paid.

Vexatious Refusal:  In the event of vexatious behavior, the insurer may be required to pay the amount owed under the policy plus interest, reasonable attorneys’ fees and a statutory penalty of an additional 20% of the first $1,500 and 10% of all other damages thereafter.  §375.296 and §375.420 RSMo.  The statute is strictly construed.  Thornburgh Insulation, Inc. v. J.W. Terrill, Inc., 236 S.W.3d 651 (Mo. E.D. 2007).

Worker’s Compensation:  Worker’s compensation benefits may be recovered by subrogation.  §287.150 RSMo.  Subrogating employer shall pay from employer’s share of the recovery a proportionate share of the expenses of the recovery, including a reasonable attorney fee.  §287.150 RSMo.  Carrier does not have a right of first recovery.  Carrier’s right to recover is pro rata.

Legal Age: The age of majority is 18.  §507.115 RSMo.

Inter-Family / Inter-Spousal Immunity:  Common law rule of inter spousal immunity is not a bar to a personal injury claim by one spouse against another during a marriage.  §451.290 RSMo. and Townsend v. Townsend, 708 S.W.2d 646 (Mo. banc 1986).  Additionally, Missouri has abrogated parental immunity. Hartman by Hartman v. Hartman, 821 S.W.2d 852 (Mo. 1991).

Wrongful Death:  Cause of action exists only by statute.  §§ 537.080 through 537.090 RSMo.  Damages may include pecuniary losses, funeral expenses and the reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training and support of those on whose behalf the suit may be brought. §537.090 RSMo.  Damages are determined by jury.  Sanders v. Ahmed, 364 S.W.3d 195, 205 (Mo. banc 2012).

Alcohol:  The Dram Shop Act holds a liquor licensee liable if the licensee is convicted of selling alcohol to a minor or selling to a person whom he knows to be intoxicated.  Social hosts cannot be held liable for torts committed by their intoxicated guests.  §537.053 RSMo. and Coons v. Berry, 304 S.W.3d 215, 222 (Mo. W.D. 2009).

Salvaged Motor Vehicles:  Missouri does not have a specific statute regarding disposal of salvage.  Resale of salvaged parts and materials is prescribed by §301.218 RSMo.  Under §301.217, a certificate of title may be issued for a salvaged vehicle at least twenty-five years old.

Value of Medical Treatment:  The dollar amount necessary to satisfy the financial obligation to health care providers, including those amounts which are paid by Medicare, constitute the value of medical treatment.  Deck v. Teasley, 322 S.W.3d 536 (Mo. banc 2010).

Dogs: Missouri does not have a dog liability statute.  Liability is reserved only for vicious propensities of which the owner or keeper knew or should have known.  Savory v. Hensick, 143 S.W.3d 712 (Mo. Ct. App. 2004).  However, violation of leash ordinance may establish per se negligence. See local ordinance.

Small Claims Court:  Limit for small claims court is $5,000.  Mo. Sup. Ct. R. 140 through 152.

Disclaimer and Message Required by the Missouri Bar

The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only, and is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Since the laws of different states vary, the information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not make, or refrain from making, any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Pitzer Snodgrass, PC, or the authors. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.