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Lawmakers seek to keep out-of-state cases out of Missouri courts

Missouri has long been the venue of choice for business litigation with a lot of money at stake -- even when the litigants have no connection to the state. Missouri lawmakers are trying to put an end to that.

Both the Senate and the House recently passed a bill that would minimize the number of out-of-state lawsuits. Many of these have flooded courtrooms in St. Louis City and Kansas City. The head of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Daniel Mehan, says, "When you have over 13,000 cases coming into St. Louis City, and only about 1,200 of those have occurred in the state of Missouri, and only 200 at best are in the city of St. Louis, I think you have a venue shopping problem."

What has made Missouri so popular? Part of it is that the courts here have a reputation for handing down significant awards to plaintiffs going up against large companies. Mehan says that "trial attorneys are trying to get into the city of St. Louis for one reason -- because it's easier to win for that side."

Missouri law has allowed these out-of-state cases to be heard in our courts. That's what this legislation seeks to change. The bill, which now awaits the signature of Gov. Mike Parson, would require plaintiffs to prove that they require a venue change from the location where the incident at the center of a case occurred.

By keeping out-of-state cases out of Missouri courthouses, more room can be freed up for cases involving Missouri litigants. This can help speed up the judicial process for all of those involved in commercial litigation in St. Louis and throughout the state.

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