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  510.263.  Bifurcated trial may be requested by any party if punitive damages involved, procedure — post-trial motion for credit on punitive damages, procedure — credit not allowed, when — doctrine of remittitur and additur applied to awards. — 1.  All actions tried before a jury involving punitive damages, including tort actions based upon improper health care, shall be conducted in a bifurcated trial before the same jury if requested by any party.

  2.  In the first stage of a bifurcated trial, in which the issue of punitive damages is submissible, the jury shall determine liability for compensatory damages, the amount of compensatory damages, including nominal damages, and the liability of a defendant for punitive damages.  Evidence of defendant's financial condition shall not be admissible in the first stage of such trial unless admissible for a proper purpose other than the amount of punitive damages.

  3.  If during the first stage of a bifurcated trial the jury determines that a defendant is liable for punitive damages, that jury shall determine, in a second stage of trial, the amount of punitive damages to be awarded against such defendant.  Evidence of such defendant's net worth shall be admissible during the second stage of such trial.

  4.  Within the time for filing a motion for new trial, a defendant may file a post-trial motion requesting the amount awarded by the jury as punitive damages be credited by the court with amounts previously paid by the defendant for punitive damages arising out of the same conduct on which the imposition of punitive damages is based.  At any hearing, the burden on all issues relating to such a credit shall be on the defendant and either party may introduce relevant evidence on such motion.  Such a motion shall be determined by the trial court within the time and according to procedures applicable to motions for new trial.  If the trial court sustains such a motion the trial court shall credit the jury award of punitive damages by the amount found by the trial court to have been previously paid by the defendant arising out of the same conduct and enter judgment accordingly.  If the defendant fails to establish entitlement to a credit under the provisions of this section, or the trial court finds from the evidence that the defendant's conduct out of which the prior punitive damages award arose was not the same conduct on which the imposition of punitive damages is based in the pending action, or the trial court finds the defendant unreasonably continued the conduct after acquiring actual knowledge of the dangerous nature of such conduct, the trial court shall disallow such credit, or, if the trial court finds that the laws regarding punitive damages in the state in which the prior award of punitive damages was entered substantially and materially deviate from the law of the state of Missouri and that the nature of such deviation provides good cause for disallowance of the credit based on the public policy of Missouri, then the trial court may disallow all or any part of the credit provided by this section.

  5.  The credit allowable under this section shall not apply to causes of action for libel, slander, assault, battery, false imprisonment, criminal conversation, malicious prosecution or fraud.

  6.  The doctrines of remittitur and additur, based on the trial judge's assessment of the totality of the surrounding circumstances, shall apply to punitive damage awards.

  7.  As used in this section, "punitive damage award" means an award for punitive or exemplary damages or an award for aggravating circumstances.

  8.  Discovery as to a defendant's assets shall be allowed only after a finding by the trial court that it is more likely than not that the plaintiff will be able to present a submissible case to the trier of fact on the plaintiff's claim of punitive damages.


(L. 1987 H.B. 700 § 39, A.L. 2005 H.B. 393)


Applicability of statutes changes to cases filed after August 28, 2005, 538.305

---- end of effective   28 Aug 2005 ----

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