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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. Read more

Uninsured Motorist Offsets: When is the Insurer Entitled to a Setoff?

A setoff provision in a policy of automobile insurance seeks to reduce coverage by amounts recovered by the insured from other insurance.  In the context of uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, a setoff provision most often seeks to reduce any amount payable under such coverages by all sums paid by or on behalf of the legally responsible tortfeasor.  Setoff language is commonly found in the “Limit of Liability” section of the particular coverage. Read more

Illinois Supreme Court Addresses Forum Non Conveniens in Asbestos Case

The Illinois Supreme Court recently issued an opinion concerning the doctrine of interstate forum non conveniens, which allows a court to decline jurisdiction of a case, even though it may have proper jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties, if another forum would better serve the convenience of the parties and promote justice.  The case, Fennell v. Illinois Central Railroad Co., 2012 IL 113812 (Dec. 28, 2012) involved a forum non conveniens motion brought by the defendant where the plaintiff resided in Mississippi, the injury occurred in Mississippi or Louisiana, the defendant maintained offices in Mississippi and Tennessee, and the only connections to Illinois were the location of the attorneys’ offices, some documentary evidence, and the location of one of the plaintiff’s experts. The Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Illinois denied defendant’s Motion to Dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds, which was affirmed by the Fifth Circuit.  Read more

Stacking of Commercial and Personal Policies in Missouri and Illinois

The stacking of policies refers to the practice of combining insurance coverage limits to account for more than one vehicle insured under a multi-car policy, or under separate policies of insurance.  Stacking has been the subject of many appellate decisions in recent years, particularly in the context of underinsured motorist coverage.  Although the great majority of policies contain language that seeks to preclude the stacking of coverage (appropriately termed “anti-stacking” provisions), such language is not uncommonly deemed ambiguous by courts and rendered unenforceable so to permit stacking of certain coverages. Read more

Does the Cap on Non-Economic Damages for Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Actions Still Apply After Watts v. Cox, et al.?

One of the most monumental decisions in the medical malpractice world in Missouri was handed down by the Missouri Supreme Court in Deborah Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Centers, et al., 376 S.W.3d 633 (Mo. 2012), on July 31, 2012. As most in the medical malpractice community are aware, the case held the cap on non-economic damages of $350,000 for medical malpractice actions found in Mo. Rev. Stat. § 538.210 unconstitutional. This cap had been in place and upheld by Missouri Courts since August 28, 2005. Given that the Watts case only addressed the constitutionality of the cap on non-economic damages in a personal injury case, the Court’s decision left the medical malpractice legal community attempting to determine whether or not the decision affected wrongful death cases. Given the language found in the Watts opinion focusing only on common law actions, and given the rationale used in upholding the cap in wrongful death cases decided prior to Watts, it is the opinion of this author that the wrongful death non-economic damages cap remains intact. Read more

Limitation of Liability Clauses in Construction Contracts – Is Mine Enforceable?

On June 16, 1887, 150 years ago, Mr. Frank Primrose walked into the Philadelphia Western Union office with an encoded message for his agent dispatched to Ellis, Kansas to purchase wool. The message was sent, but no reply message was asked for, or paid for. Instead of sitting tight for further word, (because Primrose had just purchased all the wool he needed), his agent began to buy up all the wool he could, assuming those were his instructions. However, Western Union made a mistake in transcribing only one letter of the message, which made a huge difference in the content of the code they were using. All of this cost Mr. Primrose $20,000.00, a handsome sum in those times, and he sued Western Union for their mistake. Read more