“Show me the legal reform.”
That appears to be the sentiment among the vast majority of Missouri voters, according to a recent poll.
That survey, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, found that more than three-quarters (79%) of Missouri voters think the number of lawsuits is a serious problem.
And it’s not just a partisan thing: A strong majority of Republicans (89%), Independents (78%) and Democrats (70%) share the same view about lawsuits, with the majority of voters in every single region of Missouri saying the number of lawsuits is a serious problem.
It should come as no surprise, then, that two-thirds of Missouri voters think the primary beneficiary of the lawsuit system is lawyers, and a majority think that the views of trial lawyers are being taken into account more than small businesses by state legislators.
This should serve as a warning sign to any state legislators seeking to use this legislative session as an opportunity to reward the plaintiffs’ bar by passing new laws that further expand the number of lawsuits in the state.
The truth is, Missouri continues to inch toward the bottom of the pack in terms of states with a fair and reasonable legal climate. The state ranked 42nd out of 50 in ILR’s latest “Lawsuit Climate Survey,” trending downward toward its notoriously lawsuit-friendly neighbor, Illinois.
In fact, our survey found that Missouri voters are considerably worried that the lawsuits being filed just across the Mighty Mississippi in Madison County, IL, will spill over into the Show Me State, further damaging the state’s lawsuit climate.
The good news? Voters are ready for reform.
A majority of the state’s voters (52%) say that Missouri would be better off if “there were limits on how and when lawsuits can be filed.”
Three-in-five voters support making Missouri expert testimony standards consistent with that of federal courts.
Three-quarters of Missouri voters also support a proposal to rein in lawsuit lending in the state. This proposal would place reasonable limits on the amount of interest that lawsuit lenders (a growing industry of companies that advance money to a plaintiff in a lawsuit) can charge.
The public support is clear. The path to reform is simple.
Will Missouri legislators heed the call of their constituents and reform the state’s lawsuit system?
We — and the Missouri voters — will know soon enough.