Missouri legislators last week overrode a gubernatorial veto that they said will protect jobs by capping punitive damages in lawsuits.
Rep. Robert Ross, who sponsored HB 650, helped secure the supermajorities in both the House and Senate who voted to pass the bill into law during the Missouri General Assembly’s recent annual veto session over the governor’s objections.
Ross called the bill an important step toward protecting thousands of family-supporting jobs and the enormous positive impact they have on the state’s economy.
“When we talk about this bill we are not talking about protecting one company or just a handful of jobs. This bill applies to no less than three different companies in Missouri and it will save not only the 1,600 jobs in the areas where the Doe Run Co. operates, but also more than 6,000 supporting jobs,” said Ross, R-Yukon. “We talk a lot about creating jobs and bringing new jobs to Missouri but before we can do that we have to be serious about protecting the jobs we have. HB 650 gives us the means to keep these jobs right here in Missouri where they belong.”
HB 650 protects the Doe Run Resources Corp. from punitive damages in lead related lawsuits if a judge determines the company is making “good faith” efforts to clean up contaminated mining sites. Ross said it is important to note that the bill will not cap legal awards for other categories of damages such as medical expenses or lost wages. He also pointed out that Doe Run has already spent more than $60 million in remediation and cleanup efforts of land that it had purchased from other mining companies and also has developed new technology to reduce emissions in lead smelting by 99 percent.
“It is important to understand this does not limit court access and instead caps punitive damages at $2.5 million per case,” said Ross. “Doe Run has proven to be a responsible steward of the environment and should not be subjected to excessive lawsuits that will ultimately force this company out of business. HB 650 will ensure a bright future for Doe Run and the thousands of Missourians who are employed by the company.”