☰ Revisor of Missouri


Chapter 537

< > Effective - 23 May 1996, see footnote    bottom

  537.021.  Action for damages — personal representative to maintain or defend — exception — action against liability insurer, procedure. — 1.  The existence of a cause of action for an injury to property, for a personal injury not resulting in death, or for wrongful death, which action survives the death of the wrongdoer or the person injured, or both, shall authorize and require the appointment by a probate division of the circuit court of:

  (1)  A personal representative of the estate of a person whose property is injured, or a person injured or a person entitled to maintain a wrongful death action upon the death of any such person and such appointment in only those cases involving loss chance of recovery or survival shall be made notwithstanding the time specified in section 473.050 for the exclusive purpose of pursuing a cause of action related to such injury or wrongful death; provided that, in such cases, the court in which any such case is brought shall appoint a plaintiff ad litem at the request of the plaintiff or other interested person delineated in section 537.080 and such person shall be entitled to the proceeds of such action.  Such plaintiff ad litem may maintain such action instead of the personal representative of the deceased and may maintain the action as an alternative theory in any action under section 537.080; and

  (2)  A personal representative of the estate of a wrongdoer upon the death of such wrongdoer; provided that, if a deceased wrongdoer was insured against liability for damages for wrongdoing and damages may be recovered from the wrongdoer's liability insurer, then the court in which any such cause of action is brought shall appoint at the request of the plaintiff or other interested party a qualified person to be known as a defendant ad litem.  The defendant ad litem when so appointed shall serve and act as the named party defendant in such actions in the capacity of legal representative of the deceased wrongdoer and such appointment and any proceedings had or judgment rendered in such cause after such appointment shall be binding on the insurer of such deceased wrongdoer to the same extent as if a personal representative had acted as the legal representative of such deceased wrongdoer in such cause of action.  Should the plaintiff in such cause of action desire to satisfy any portion of a judgment rendered thereon out of the assets of the estate of such deceased wrongdoer, such action shall be maintained against a personal representative appointed by the probate division of the circuit court and the plaintiff shall comply with the provisions of the probate code with respect to claims against decedents' estates.  Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit a plaintiff in such cause of action to pursue other assets of a decedent's estate after the expiration of the time provided in section 473.444.

  2.  Nothing herein shall be construed to require that the deceased wrongdoer leave no assets subject to probate administration before the appointment of a defendant ad litem as herein provided, nor shall the appointment of a defendant ad litem as herein provided prevent the probate division of the circuit court from appointing a personal representative of the estate of the deceased wrongdoer for purposes of administration of the assets thereof.

  3.  The defendant ad litem may be allowed a reasonable fee by the court appointing him which shall be taxed as court costs.  The defendant ad litem shall not be liable for court costs unless specially charged by the court for personal misconduct in the action.

  4.  Actions properly pending against personal representatives and defendants ad litem prior to September 28, 1981, shall not be affected by the provisions of this section.


(L. 1977 S.B. 147, A.L. 1978 H.B. 1634, A.L. 1981 S.B. 22 & 119 & 23, A.L. 1993 S.B. 88, A.L. 1996 S.B. 494)

Effective 5-23-96

---- end of effective  23 May 1996 ----

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