A major issue the past few legislative sessions has resurfaced in the House, with the sponsor much more hopeful of it becoming law this year. Representative Richard Byrd of Kirkwood has introduced litigation reform, which he promotes as a way to bring down the insurance rates driving doctors out of Missouri. Byrd says his bill will keep lawsuits from being swept into St. Louis, which has given much more generous jury awards in civil cases and will cap non-economic damages at $250,000. Byrd claims the State has 263 fewer doctors this year than last, because of its lawsuit friendly environment. He says hundreds of other doctors have scaled back their practices to avoid being sued. Such measures won approval in the Republican-controlled Legislature in the past, but were vetoed by Governor Bob Holden, a Democrat. Governor Matt Blunt, a Republican, says he favors litigation reform.
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