Publication Date

Spring 2007

Document Type



Venue matters. Anyone who doubts it need only look to the venue wars waged in the Missouri Supreme Court during the last decades. Understandably, plaintiffs prefer unrestrictive venue rules so that they can file and try their cases in counties with plaintiff-friendly jury pools. Just as understandably, defendants prefer rules that restrict plaintiffs' ability to choose between multiple venues and, to the extent possible, rules that permit the defendant to select the counties in which they can be forced to defend their actions.

The passage of Missouri's 2005 Tort Reform Act represented an important legislative victory for defendants in this struggle. The Act's provisions significantly restrict plaintiffs' venue options and substantially increase defendants' control over the counties in which they can be sued. The wisdom of these changes will be debated vigorously, but this article will not engage in that debate. It has less ambitious goals: to explain the post-tort reform venue provisions, to identify important issues that will face Missouri courts due to ambiguities or gaps in those provisions, and to suggest the most appropriate resolution of those issues based on neutral interpretive principles. The Tort Reform Act has not ended the venue wars, but it has significantly reshaped the territory on which those wars will be fought. This article is a map to the new battlefield.

Publication Title

University of Missouri Kansas City Law Review